Washington State University will no longer require most students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 beginning with the summer 2023 session.
The decision to rescind the COVID-19 vaccinate mandate for the majority of students follows a recommendation from the university’s Infectious Disease and Public Health Advisory Committee. Vaccine requirements are unchanged for WSU Health Sciences students.
Members of the committee include representatives from across the WSU system with expertise in public health, student services, human resources, and environmental health and safety.
“Requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students was essential during the peak of the pandemic to help protect the health of our communities across the state,” said Joel Schwartzkopf, who oversees Cougar Health Services in his role as assistant vice chancellor of student health and wellbeing. “Our understanding of the virus and the tactics to combat it are evolving and we continue to follow the best available evidence from local, state, and national public health authorities, just as we have done throughout the pandemic.”
Vaccine boosters can be an important part of that process but are dependent on so many variables that mandating them would pose significant challenges. For example, each student’s age, existing health conditions, when previous vaccines were received and past COVID-19 infections all factor in to when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends someone should get a booster.
The committee also noted that the severity of COVID-19 infections and the associated strain on healthcare systems have continued to diminish through the end of 2022.
WSU suspended the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for most employees, contractors, and volunteers last October with the lifting of COVID-19 emergency orders by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
WSU Health Sciences programs as well as certain other healthcare settings across the system will continue to maintain their COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Executive Policy 43 – Prevention of Infectious Diseases with Vaccines and Screenings – outlines the current vaccine requirements for students, employees, volunteers, visitors, and contractors. Cougar Health Services is required to review public health and vaccination information annually as part of the policy.
WSU continues to recommend that all members of the university community get vaccinated against COVID-19 and stay up-to-date on their boosters in keeping with recommendations from CDC. The university also encourages individuals to take appropriate precautions if they are feeling ill, such as wearing tight-fitting masks and staying home when sick.