Two prominent Oregon public universities will now require students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall.
Portland State University’s announcement came Wednesday, and Oregon State University announced it Tuesday evening.
PSU president Stephen Percy sent out a letter stating that a personal exemption will be accepted, until one of the vaccines is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. One can opt out for medical or religious reasons as well.
To help distribute more vaccines, both PSU and OSU are hosting clinics.
“Widespread 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,” Percy wrote.
In an email response to WW, PSU media spokesperson Christina Williams wrote that the university has been prioritizing students, staff and the community’s health and safety all along, and this is its way of continuing to do so.
“PSU is committed to be back in person this fall, bringing vibrancy to downtown Portland,” Williams wrote. “By requiring the COVID-19 vaccine of folks coming to campus, it ensures that we can do that while also keeping our community safe.”
Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president of university relations, says the university is also hosting clinics to help vaccinate people across the state and has collaborated to vaccinate more than 50,000 people already.
“By hosting clinics and by working with communities throughout Oregon to help understand what their needs are and what their concerns are and by doing so we work as a partner, not as a dictator,” Clark says. “We are not telling those communities what to do, we’re helping those communities.”
Clark says OSU hopes to build a sense of confidence in the vaccine, and clarify what OSU’s expectations are in the fall, by announcing this decision early.
“Within Oregon, we think it’s a community opportunity and obligation to be vaccinated,” Clark says. “We do recognize that there are areas in our state that have concerns to vaccinations in general. As a university we help to inform, educate and provide science-based education.”
Last month, Lewis & Clark College and Willamette University announced a COVID-19 vaccine requirement. The University of Oregon has yet to make an announcement.