MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –The University of Minnesota announced it will not require COVID-19 vaccinations for students in the 2021-2022 school year. It comes after a survey found many at the university are already fully vaccinated.
In a statement released Monday, the university said students, staff, and faculty will not be required to show proof of vaccination to live, learn, or work on campus or other university properties.READ MORE: Police Investigate Woman's Apparent Shooting Death In Austin
“Our public health and medical experts confirm that vaccine requirements will not result in 100% vaccination rates. Experience suggests that an incentivized approach can be very effective in succeeding with our fall semester plans,” said the university in its statement.
The university said that from the start of the pandemic it rejected “invasive and expensive mandatory testing protocols,” and instead embraced guidance from public health experts. By doing this it placed full confidence in their students and workforce to wear a mask, practice physical distancing, wash their hands and test at their own discretion.
The university said it believes its methods were successful, referencing a randomized sample survey from May of 12,500 local students, faculty, and staff. The survey showed that 96% of respondents reported they received at least one vaccine dose or had plans to be vaccinated, and 84% reported they were already fully vaccinated.
The school says regardless of university intervention it believes much of its campus population will be fully vaccinated come fall.READ MORE: At Least 2 People Struck By Vehicle On Nicollet In Downtown Minneapolis
“We expect most of our community members to choose to be vaccinated. The University will do everything possible to make vaccines accessible to all who want it and address concerns and uncertainty,” read the statement.
The school said while it believes “COVID-19 vaccines are among the world’s best” and acknowledges its own U of M researchers were involved in vaccine development, it’s committed to protecting the privacy of its students and employees. It also said it will not ask for proof of vaccination status either as it believes it could result in a communal division based on an individual’s vaccination status.
In its statement, the university reminded readers to stay home if they are sick, wear a mask if they wish to, support others who may choose to wear a mask, and to practice good personal hygiene such as hand washing, among other public health recommendations.
“We must also continue to be patient and respectful of each other, and approach vaccinations with an equity lens. For some, vaccination is not possible for health or religious reasons. In addition, some members of our campus community are at greater risk for health impacts, even if they are vaccinated,” said the university. “Please respect individuals’ decisions about wearing masks, their approaches to work and other activities, and other steps they may take to protect themselves.”
The university said it would align its efforts to reach out to communities that have less access to vaccines and testing as well.
Minnesota health officials reported 118 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths on Monday with the total cases reported in the state sitting at 603,876 and 7,517 deaths attributed to the virus.MORE NEWS: Minnesota Weather: Dangerous, Smoky Air Could Linger Longer Than Our Current Alert
Since vaccinations began being administered in Minnesota in December, there have been over 5.5 million doses administered and 90% of those ages 65 and up have received at least one vaccine dose; 66% of those 16 and up have received at least one dose.