All students, faculty and staff on all three campuses of the University of Michigan are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and must submit their vaccination information before the start of the fall term, university officials announced July 30.
The universitywide vaccine requirement, which also applies to Michigan Medicine, was announced July 30 in an email to the campus community signed by President Mark S. Schlissel; Susan M. Collins, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs; Marschall S. Runge, executive vice president for medical affairs; and Brian T. Smith, interim executive vice president and chief financial officer. UM-Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso and UM-Flint Chancellor Debasish Dutta also signed the message.
The announcement comes as the rate of COVID-19 infections increases across the country, particularly in states and sub-populations with the lowest vaccination rates and as the predominant delta variant proves to be much more infectious.
“Widespread vaccination is the primary and most effective tool that will bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control and it is the key to a vibrant and engaging academic year,” officials wrote in the email.
The vaccine requirement also applies to those working or learning remotely.
“We’re making this announcement today to allow those who remain unvaccinated the time to begin their vaccination series in the month ahead,” the message said. “While we will provide limited exemptions for medical and religious reasons, it is imperative that all members of our community are protected from this devastating virus.”
This step is consistent with the advice of our campus public health experts. It also is in line with recent announcements made on university and health care campuses and by companies across the nation, including the Veterans Health Administration, Google and the Mayo Clinic, though each has variations for its organization. More than 600 colleges and universities have announced vaccination requirements of various types.
There also is strong internal support for a vaccine mandate from Central Student Government, Rackham Student Government, deans of the schools and colleges, a Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs resolution and a survey of U-M faculty.
Michigan Medicine has dealt directly with the harmful toll of this virus, responding to surges of acutely ill patients while still providing important health care services using strict infection control protocols. Increased vaccination among health care personnel is crucial to Michigan Medicine’s commitment to the safety of patients, their families and staff.
The university will require all faculty, staff and students to do one of the following:
- Submit proof of vaccination (full or partial) no later than Aug. 30.
- Apply for a medical or religious exemption.
The exemption process for U-M campuses and Michigan Medicine is being developed and will be communicated by Aug. 4. Those individuals who request and are approved for a medical or religious exemption will be required to complete mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing and must continue to mask indoors while on campus.
Beginning Aug. 9, the university will make advisers available to students, faculty and staff who have questions about the vaccine, its safety or the importance of being vaccinated. Details will be shared when available through the Record, unit human resources representatives and the Division of Student Life.
Weekly COVID-19 testing and continued masking indoors will be required of these individuals as they work to become compliant. Ultimately, non-compliant students, faculty and staff will be subject to appropriate campus disciplinary procedures.
University officials are not currently planning to make any further changes to U-M’s broader masking policy, which now requires masking indoors for the unvaccinated and in classrooms for everyone, consistent with guidance from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.
As of July 30, roughly 81 percent of students and 65 percent of employees on the Ann Arbor campus, and 76 percent of Michigan Medicine employees already have reported their COVID-19 vaccinations. The vaccination rates are lower for some categories of employees including temporary employees and for employees on the Dearborn and Flint campuses.
Employee vaccination data has been added to the existing vaccination dashboard, which launched earlier this month. The university verifies self-reported information for accuracy and that it meets the additional requirement of being an authorized vaccine. Data is refreshed daily.
The latest national data shows the delta variant appears to cause more frequent breakthrough infections in vaccinated persons. While they rarely become severely ill or require hospitalization, these vaccinated individuals can spread the virus to unvaccinated individuals, including children, or immunocompromised people.