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Portland State announces vaccine requirement for fall

Portland State University announced on Wednesday that it will be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for the upcoming fall.

The university will be requiring all in-person students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated starting this fall, “unless they claim a medical or religious exemption,” according to an email sent to the campus community Wednesday afternoon.

“Until the Food and Drug Administration has fully approved at least one vaccine, a personal exemption is available,” PSU President Stephen Percy wrote in that message. “Once one or more of the vaccines receives full approval, the personal exemption will be discontinued. Details of the employee vaccination requirement will be determined in consultation with PSU’s faculty and staff leadership and labor union partners.”

Percy stated that as the university community is eager to put the pandemic behind it, “[w]idespread vaccination is our clearest and best path toward that future. The COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and PSU is committed to being a partner in the public health of our region.”

According to that message, the university plans to host a vaccine clinic on campus this month that will be open to all campus community members and their immediate family.

“The vaccine will protect you but it will also protect others including your family, your classmates and the rest of Portland,” said Carlos Crespo, Professor in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health and PSU’s Vice Provost of Undergraduate Training in Biomedical Research, in a statement. “PSU is an urban campus and we need to have the best layer of protection we can against the virus. The vaccine is that best layer of protection and we have enough data to show that it’s safe for everyone.”

Oregon State University was the first public university in the state to make such an announcement on Tuesday. Like Portland State, OSU is requiring COVID-19 vaccines, or approved exemptions, for all of its on-campus students and employees.

It is unclear how exactly the remainder of Oregon’s public universities will proceed.

The University of Oregon said in a statement on Wednesday that it is still considering its options for requiring members of the campus community to be vaccinated.

“We are engaging with employee and student groups, as well as public health partners, as we consider a path forward. We know this decision is important to the community and we expect to communicate something soon,” the university said.

The Oregon Institute of Technology also told OPB it has not made a decision about vaccine requirements yet.

Private institutions Willamette University, Lewis & Clark College and the University of Portland all announced vaccine requirements late last month.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting