Westminster College first in Utah to require COVID-19 vaccinations

Westminster College in Salt Lake City announced Thursday that it will be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for students and staff this fall.

Westminster College in Salt Lake City announced Thursday that it will be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for students and staff this fall. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)



SALT LAKE CITY — Westminster College announced on Thursday that all employees and students are to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, making it the first Utah college to require COVID-19 vaccinations.

The vaccination requirement is for all employees, including faculty, adjunct faculty, full-time and part-time staff, as well as current and incoming students. Westminster administration reports that legally acquired exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine including health, medical, and religious reasons will be honored in the process.

Staff is encouraged to coordinate vaccinations with supervisors and can use paid work hours to get it.

Additionally, the college has reinstated its mask requirement in all indoor and shared spaces amid increases in disease transmission rates and recent guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. The administration added that it will continue to monitor data and recommendations and make changes to policy as needed.

Westminster's announcement comes after Utah health officials reported 1,096 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, along with seven deaths and 7,653 more vaccinations administered. Utahns hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday numbered 395, with the state's rolling seven-day average for positive cases now at 905, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Fully vaccinated individuals have been encouraged by the CDC and local health departments to wear masks in moderate- to high-transmission areas to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as cases continue to rise.

The administration has asked students and faculty to fill out a vaccination attestation form to help monitor how vaccinated the campus community is. The college said it will continue to follow up with students and faculty who are not vaccinated.

The college, which has a total undergraduate enrollment of around 1,740 students, acknowledged that a small number of people in breakthrough cases — those already vaccinated — will test positive for COVID-19. The breakthrough cases will likely experience mild or no symptoms of COVID-19 and are a testament that the vaccines are still a success, a statement from the college said. Due to breakthrough cases, the administration advised those who may feel ill to get tested for COVID-19 and the institution will continue to provide on-campus testing.

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