The University of Michigan will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students who live on its Ann Arbor campus this fall, school officials announced Friday.
President Mark Schlissel said shots will not be mandated for faculty, staff and other students “at this time," but he strongly encouraged everyone to get vaccinated. The requirement will allow residence halls to operate safely at nearly normal capacity, he said, after there were more than 600 infections in dorms last fall despite a mask requirement and other restrictions.
In the weeks ahead, the university will start to excuse vaccinated students from mandatory coronavirus testing. Those who are vaccinated will not have to self-quarantine after being exposed to someone with the virus, as long as those vaccinated students don't have symptoms.
About 9,700, or 31%, of undergraduate students live on campus. So do 2,400 graduate students.
“In order for a campus to fully recover from the effects of the pandemic, we need everyone who can be to be vaccinated,” Schlissel said, adding that officials were considering several other unspecified vaccination incentives. Students must provide proof of their vaccination or an approved exemption by mid-July.
Michigan is the second of the state's 15 public universities to require students living on campus to be vaccinated, joining Oakland.
About 47% of Michigan residents ages 16 and older have gotten at least one dose. The state wants to immunize at least 70%.
Dr. Laraine Washer, medical director of infection control at Michigan Medicine, said there now is broad access to vaccines, but “we're in danger of falling short of getting to the level of vaccination coverage needed to achieve the goal of community immunity that's really required to beat the virus." Medical providers, public health experts and others, she said, have a duty to “turn this vaccine hesitancy into vaccine confidence.”