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All Of Oregon’s Public Universities To Require COVID-19 Vaccinations Or Exemptions

Eastern Oregon University in La Grande has had to adjust like other public and private colleges to recruit students during the pandemic.
Rob Manning
Eastern Oregon University in La Grande has had to adjust like other public and private colleges to recruit students during the pandemic.

Oregon Tech and Eastern Oregon University were the last two universities to announce the requirement.

It’s unanimous. With recent announcements from Eastern Oregon University and the Oregon Institute of Technology, all of Oregon’s public universities will be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations this fall.

OIT made its announcement Wednesday afternoon, and EOU followed on Thursday. Like all of Oregon’s other public universities, both OIT and EOU will require vaccinations for students, faculty and staff — except with legally accepted exemptions.

“We deliberated this decision at length, evaluated science and public health recommendations, and surveyed the EOU community to identify the best path to restoring a healthy, highly engaged community for those who work and learn on our campus,” EOU President Tom Inkso said in a statement Thursday.

In a board meeting last month, Insko said that many students and faculty were split on the decision to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a survey. In that survey, the majority of faculty at EOU were in favor of a vaccine mandate, while the majority of students were against one.

Eastern will officially require COVID-19 vaccinations when the FDA fully approves one or more of the vaccines. Both Pfizer and Moderna have started the monthslong process of getting full approval and the FDA has indicated they’re “highly likely” to be approved later in 2021. But EOU officials don’t want members of the campus community waiting for that, emphasizing in a news release, that it “strongly encourages students, employees and partners to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.”

EOU said it will require vaccinations for all students and employees who learn or work on campus. Students who attend class fully online and who don’t engage in any on-campus activities will not be required to be vaccinated.

“Ultimately, as with every decision related to the pandemic, we are focused on protecting the safety and health of the EOU community, and returning to a highly engaged, in-person, on-campus experience that upholds our mission and shared values,” Insko said in his statement. “We remain committed to providing all students with the greatest educational opportunities possible in preparation for success after graduation.”

Both EOU and OIT say they will provide more information on how to request an exemption or submit proof of vaccination.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Meerah Powell is a general assignment and breaking news reporter for OPB. She previously worked as a news reporter and podcast producer for Eugene Weekly in her hometown of Eugene, Oregon. Along with writing and audio work, Meerah also has experience with photography and videography. She graduated from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication.