University Of Michigan Will Require All Students, Faculty, & Staff To Be Vaccinated By The Fall Term

Jul 30, 2021

Michigan Union on the University of Michigan campus.
Credit University of Michigan / umich.edu

All students, faculty, and staff on all three campuses of the University of Michigan are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit their vaccination information before the start of the fall term.  

The university-wide vaccine requirement also applies to Michigan Medicine.

WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with U-M Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs Rick Fitzgerald to learn more about the decision.


TRANSCRIPTION:

Lisa Barry: The University of Michigan is announcing it's going to require all students, faculty, and staff and all three of its campuses to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This is Lisa Barry. Joining us to talk more about that is U of M assistant vice president for public affairs Rick Fitzgerald. Thanks for joining us.

Rick Fitzgerald: Yep. Thank you.

Lisa Barry: Can you detail the announcement for us?

University of Michigan assistant vice president for public affairs Rick Fitzgerald
Credit University of Michigan / umich.edu

Rick Fitzgerald: Sure. We did announce today that we're expanding--we had a vaccine requirement in place for students living at university housing. And after much consideration and watching carefully the developments with COVID vaccine, both locally, regionally, and across the nation, we've decided that the best course of action to really trying to get back to the the academic life with research and teaching and extracurricular activities, the best pathway to that was widespread vaccination in our community. So, that's where we put this requirement in place.

Lisa Barry: And this includes Michigan Medicine as well?

Rick Fitzgerald: It does includes all three campuses and including Michigan Medicine. That's correct.

Lisa Barry: Can you run down some of the percentage of what percentage of students and employees at the hospital have been vaccinated already?

Rick Fitzgerald: Sure. Most of this is from self-reported data at this point, but about 81 percent, as of today of our students who are expected to be on the Ann Arbor campus in the fall, have reported that they're vaccinated. Overall, all of the faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor campus is at about 61 percent. And it's a bit higher, 76 percent at Michigan Medicine employees.

Lisa Barry: So you're hoping to see those percentages go up?

Rick Fitzgerald: We are. Yes. We're hoping to see those go up significantly, because we think that's the best way to get back to all of the activities that that are important to us in our community.

Lisa Barry: Can people apply for exemptions for, perhaps, religious or personal reasons?

Rick Fitzgerald: Yes, we're still working on the actual form to have that. But, we will have a process for medical reasons and, you know, and religious exemptions. Those are possibilities. That's correct. We're also working to stand up a team of people who will be available to answer questions about the vaccine, because, we, you know, we know that people have questions, and part of their, sometimes for people, their reluctance to be vaccinated is there. They have questions that need to be answered. And, you know, we're an academic community where education is one of our specialties. And we want to leverage that knowledge and help people get their questions answered as well.

Lisa Barry: Have you put together a special team to do that?

Rick Fitzgerald: Yeah, we're still working out those details. But, yeah, we're trying to leverage the, you know, the health systems that are in place. We have the university health service on campus, Michigan Medicine, our School of Public Health. So, we have those resources in different pockets in our community, and we're trying to see what we can pull together over the next week or so to put that in place.

Lisa Barry: Have you established how people can approach others with their questions?

Rick Fitzgerald: We're still, you know, we're still working out that process of putting the advising team in place. But people certainly and our community are not bashful about asking questions.

Lisa Barry: And they may not be bashful about saying "No, thank you" either. What happens to those people who might just refuse because they don't want to get vaccinated?

Rick Fitzgerald: Well, you know, we're certainly putting--that's part of the reason we want to put this advising group in place so that people first can get their questions answered, make sure that they have the information they need, you know, but if, ultimately, if if there's just, you know, not, you know, we'll work that through our normal disciplinary process, as, you know, there's lots of policies and procedures that we as employees must follow at the university. And there's an established process in place for that. And we'll use those established procedures.

Lisa Barry: And I'm assuming you did put a lot of research into making this decision. How prevalent is it other universities around the country where they are requiring people to be vaccinated?

Rick Fitzgerald: Yeah, it's becoming more and more common to put a requirement of, you know, many organisms. The last time we looked, in the last day or so, there was over 600 U.S. universities that were putting some kind of of requirement in place, you know, and other private organizations this week. Certainly, it's been in the news, lots of health care systems are putting vaccine requirements in place. So, you know, each organization, you know, it has some of its own requirements. But we thought, you know, we looked at everything involved and thought that an approach to including everyone within our community, faculty, staff, and students made the best approach for us.

Lisa Barry: Is it too soon to ask how this might impact home football games?

Rick Fitzgerald: Well, the mandate or the requirement for vaccination does not apply to visitors to campus. And, you know, the Big House kind of falls under state rules for outdoor sporting events venues. So, we'll certainly follow those rules in place. But the benefit of being an outdoor stadium provides some latitude as well.

Lisa Barry: University of Michigan assistant vice president for public affairs Rick Fitzgerald. Thanks so much for talking to us here on Eighty-Nine One WEMU.

Rick Fitzgerald: Oh, thank you for having me. 

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu