Over 60% of employees, 18% of students at KU have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine

photo by: Journal-World File

Students walk along Jayhawk Boulevard, donning masks, on the University of Kansas campus on Aug. 24, 2020.

Over half of University of Kansas employees and about one-fifth of the student population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the university.

Andrew Foster, KU’s emergency management coordinator, spoke to KU Chancellor Douglas Girod and Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer about the university’s vaccination efforts during the chancellor’s Wednesday COVID-19 video update.

Foster said that as of Monday, 62.7% of employees had been vaccinated against COVID-19, and 17.7% of students had been vaccinated. This data comes from those in the KU community who have been vaccinated through KU and those who have told KU they have been vaccinated elsewhere.

But Foster thinks the true percentage of KU employees and students who have been vaccinated is higher, because many employees and students could have received a vaccine through the local health department, a pharmacy or in their home county. Foster encourages anyone in the KU community who has received a vaccine through an organization other than KU to tell the university by going to protect.ku.edu/vaccine. It will help those at the university to have a better understanding of how protected the KU community is, he said.

Foster encouraged any KU students who want to get the vaccine to sign up as quickly as possible, so they can receive both the first and second dose before the last day of finals on May 14. Douglas County has time slots available for its vaccination clinics on Thursday, as well as on April 20, 21 and 22. Details on how to sign up can be found on ldchealth.org.

In the video message, Girod praised the vaccination efforts at the university.

“We’re pretty excited about where we are and the future based on what availability is right now,” he said.

The question of whether KU will require all students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine prior to the start of the 2021-2022 academic year is still up in the air.

Girod said in a University Senate meeting last week that as of right now KU would “probably not” require it, but that things could change by the summer. He said the challenge was that none of the vaccines was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which from a legal perspective makes it hard to require. He said he hoped the vaccines would get FDA approval soon. Currently, the COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use by the FDA under an emergency use authorization.

Girod said he also recognized that there was a “subcomponent” of the population that is hesitant about receiving the vaccine and that he would need to think about how to address that. Girod said it could be easier to require the vaccine for certain pockets of the KU community, such as students who live in student housing.

Some universities, such as Rutgers University, the University of Notre Dame and Brown University, have already announced that they will require students to have a COVID-19 vaccine.

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