University of Hawaii drops in-person coronavirus vaccine requirement, cites high vaccination rates

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — University of Hawaii (UH) President David Lassner announced on Thursday, July 15, the 10-campus UH system will not require students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to attend in-person classes in fall 2021.

President Lassner cited UH surveys in June 2021 that found over 92% of UH students and 95% of UH staff had been — or plan to be — vaccinated against COVID-19.

“More than 92% of our students and 95% of our employees system wide have been or plan to be vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus. About 7% of our students 4% of our no plans to receive a COVID vaccine at that time.”

UH President David Lassner

The UH system had previously announced the COVID-19 vaccine would be required to attend in-person classes as long as at least one of the three vaccines had been approved and fully licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

None of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have full FDA approval as of July 15.

“When we announced that all students would be required to be vaccinated to participate on campus, it was with the condition, and frankly the expectation, that at least one vaccine would be fully approved by the FDA by the fall semester. Over 500 universities nationwide have announced vaccination requirements and the condition for full approval by the FDA is the same approach taken by for example the University of California and the Cal State University Systems, two of the largest higher education systems in the country.

“The FDA has not completed the full approval process, so student vaccine mandate is as stated enforcement will be limited to students residing on campus not to attending classes in person. It may also extend to certain other specific activities, events and facilities that will be determined based on the health-risk assessment. Given the high rate of vaccination within our and new guidelines that we’re finalizing now, we’re confident that our campus es will be safe places to learn, live and conduct research.

“Enforcement at the vaccination requirement to attend in-person classes will take place only after a vaccine is fully authorized by the FDA so that would be no sooner than the Spring 2022 semester. In the meantime, we will continue to reach out to all of our community to educate and to encourage.”

UH President David Lassner

The June surveys President Lassner cited were sent to 1,212 students and 31.1% responded, according to UH. The employee survey was sent to 100% of UH personnel and had a 49% response rate. Click here to review the results of both surveys.

Face coverings will still be required for everyone while indoors on UH campuses and students, employees and visitors must use the LumiSight UH health check app that easily shows vaccination status.

The vaccine requirement will be enforced in fall 2021 for students who live in on-campus housing at UH Mānoa and Hilo, according to UH, and exemptions will be available for health and religious reasons. UH officials said those who are not vaccinated may have certain limitations but will be able to enroll in on-campus classes.

The UH system will see increases of in-person instruction and activities in fall 2021 and even more on-campus events are planned for the spring 2022 semester, according to UH.

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