COVID-19 vaccine to be required for students choosing to live on campus

April 23, 2021
Written By:
Rick Fitzgerald

Move-In Day West and South Quad. Image credit: Michigan Photography.

University of Michigan students who choose to live on the Ann Arbor campus during the 2021 fall term will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

The new requirement, which provides for exemptions and applies only to students who will live in residence halls and other university housing, was announced April 23 by Martino Harmon, U-M vice president for student life.

All students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, and the university has ongoing vaccination clinics where all can get free vaccinations quickly and easily on the Ann Arbor campus or nearby. To date, Michigan Medicine has administered more than 108,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, more than the capacity of a packed Michigan Stadium.

Students are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine series, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine. Students must provide proof of their vaccination or an approved exemption by July 15 to be permitted to move into their assigned room. Michigan Housing will share additional details directly with students in the coming weeks.

“We know that widespread vaccination will be the only way to facilitate a return to normal and robust campus life. And we would like to provide a living environment for students this coming fall that is as close to the fall of 2019, pre-COVID-19, as possible,” Harmon said. “This is not a mandate to be vaccinated, but rather a choice to live in communal living and therefore make the choice to get vaccinated.”

F. DuBois Bowman, dean of the School of Public Health, said he “strongly supports a vaccine requirement for students living in residence halls.”

“Congregate living settings, like residence halls, are at high risk for spread of illness, especially with B.1.1.7 and other variants that spread more easily. Vaccination is a key prevention tool to be used in this space, and beyond, to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

The university recently asked all students to voluntarily share their vaccination information by using a self-report tool to upload an image of their COVID-19 vaccination card or the appropriate documentation from a medical professional confirming vaccination.

The information will be used by campus officials to make public health-guided decisions in relation to student experiences on campus and within the residence halls. It also will aid in granting exemptions from weekly testing and quarantine requirements.

For example, fully vaccinated students who remain symptom-free will not be required to quarantine following a close-contact exposure to COVID-19, which follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Likewise, vaccinated students will only need to be tested for COVID-19 if they display symptoms.

“We strongly encourage all students to get vaccinated because we know the vaccines are highly effective and extremely safe,” said Robert Ernst, associate vice president of student life for health and wellness, executive director of University Health Service, and assistant professor of internal medicine.

“While young people are less likely to die or be hospitalized from COVID-19, they can still catch coronavirus and transmit it to others. Community immunity can only be achieved if a high percentage of our campus community is vaccinated.”

With expanded eligibility, state health officials have shifted focus to vaccinating young adults age 16 and older against COVID-19. In support of those efforts, U-M recently partnered with Kroger and Meijer to offer more than 4,100 appointments to the U-M community to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. As of April 22, more than 2,790 U-M students have voluntarily shared their validated COVID-19 vaccination records with the university.

At U-M, 31% of the student population lives in university-owned, -operated or -affiliated housing. Michigan Housing normally houses approximately 9,700 undergraduate students in the residence halls, and another 2,400 graduate students at Northwood apartments, Munger Graduate Residences and the Lawyers Club, for a total of approximately 12,100 on-campus residents.

Since March 2020, Michigan Housing and Michigan Dining have been operating at a much smaller scale due to the pandemic. In the fall, the university residence halls are expected to operate at about 80% of capacity with expanded use of shared spaces and other activities.

The university will continue to reserve 450 rooms on North Campus for use as quarantine and isolation housing.

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