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Western Oregon University announces COVID-19 vaccine requirement

WOU campus
WOU campus

Western Oregon University announced Monday that it will be requiring vaccines for all on-campus students and employees this fall.

WOU is the latest Oregon public university to make such an announcement. Last week, both Portland State University and Oregon State University made similar calls.

WOU President Rex Fuller announced the vaccination requirement in a student town-hall meeting Monday morning.

“Our decision for doing this really relates to the idea that we should be able to have a safe community with the greater numbers of vaccines going through our community,” Fuller said in the virtual meeting, “but also, the notion that we know that being together in face-to-face encounters with careful safety planning, we have a better educational experience for all of our students, faculty and staff.”

Fuller said the university is in the midst of ironing out the details of its vaccination requirement. That planning, he said, will take place over several months and will include input from the campus community.

“We’re announcing the requirement, but many of the details remain unfinished, and that’s because we have to speak to our community,” WOU Vice President and General Counsel Ryan Hagemann said Monday.

Hagemann said the university will be accepting some vaccination exemptions, the details of which are still being worked out.

“I will say that learning from the other public universities in the state, and basically Oregon law, that there will be some exemptions and accommodations baked into the vaccine requirement program. ... We just want to be able to research that and get it right,” he said.

The university will also be offering an incentive to students who get vaccinated — a $25 voucher to be used on textbooks, supplies or whatever they choose from the student bookstore.

“My hope is that this incentive program encourages WOU students to get their vaccination and rewards those who already have. It’s important we do our part to support pack immunity in our Wolf community,” said student government President N.J. Johnson said in a statement. “We encourage students to get their first vaccination as soon as possible so they will have their second dose completed before the conclusion of spring term.”

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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