President Tim Sands announced June 8 that COVID-19 vaccinations would be required for students to attend classes for the upcoming school year, with exemptions for medical reasons and sincerely held religious beliefs. Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged by the university to get vaccinated. This comes with the decrease of COVID-19 cases in Virginia along with the decrease of daily vaccine doses administered, according to the Virginia Department of Health website.
“Despite lower risks today and the downward trends in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Virginia, it is clear that the full experience we must strive to offer in the fall will only be assured with vaccine-induced population-scale immunity and low disease prevalence on our campuses and in our larger communities,” Sands’ statement read.
The Vice President for Student Affairs Frank Shushok Jr. also released a statement shortly afterward on the same day, detailing procedures for students to sign up for vaccinations as well as register their vaccination status with the university. Once students are fully vaccinated, they are able to upload a copy or photo of their vaccination card to the Online Student Health Portal. The deadline to do so is Aug. 6 in order to attend classes for the upcoming fall semester.
“Virginia Tech’s vaccine requirement applies to all undergraduate and graduate students. Graduate students in programs with online courses are required to be vaccinated,” Shushok Jr.’s announcement read. “We welcome and expect all of our students to access Virginia Tech services and programs, and this will help us provide those services safely.”
The message urged students to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine no later than June 20. This allows for the appropriate window of time between doses to pass so that students can receive their second dose on time for the Aug. 6 deadline. The vaccines that will be accepted are one dose of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine, two doses of the Moderna or the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, or the full dosage of a World Health Organization approved vaccine if students reside outside of the United States.
To get a vaccine, students can access their local health district office’s website. Those who live in the New River Valley can visit the New River Health District’s website.
“While COVID-19 is not yet fully behind us, vaccines have dramatically lowered the risk of infection and made it possible to plan for a fully in-person fall semester without mask or physical distancing requirements for vaccinated members of our community,” Sands’ statement said. “We’re now filled with excitement about everything this will mean to our lives and this university we love. The Hokie experience will be back this fall.”