Message Regarding UVA Vaccine and Booster Requirements
To the University Community:
Last Friday, the Virginia attorney general issued an advisory opinion indicating that public colleges and universities do not have the legal authority to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students as a condition of enrollment or in-person attendance. This advisory opinion supersedes the advisory opinion from the prior attorney general, which concluded that universities do have the legal authority to mandate COVID-19 vaccines. Attorney general opinions, though they do not have the force of law the way a court ruling does, nonetheless warrant careful consideration.
All of that said, the issue is moot for us at UVA, at least for the time being. Our deadline for the vaccine/booster mandate has passed, and we are grateful to report that over 99% of students have complied with our vaccine and booster requirements. Because we have such a small number of students who have not yet received the booster, we decided early last week – based on the advice of our student affairs team – that we will not disenroll students who have not yet received their booster, but will continue to encourage them to do so.
All of which means we can and will continue on the path we have set for ourselves. That path, for the last two years, has been guided by our public health experts, who have offered advice and direction every step of the way. It has been infused with a sense of what it means to be a part of a community. It has been characterized by empathy and concern for others. And because of all of this – and because of all of you – we have managed to keep this University open and to keep this community, and our neighbors, safe at the same time.
This has not been the two years any of us would have asked or hoped for, but it has been a time where – as trying as it has been – we have demonstrated what it looks like when a community pulls together to get through something difficult. And for all of that, you have our profound thanks.
Going forward, our testing and masking policies will remain in place, though we will continue to update those policies and others as appropriate. Toward that end, we will provide an update later this week on the temporary precautions we put in place for the beginning of this semester.
As for the need for any additional rounds of vaccines or boosters, our hope is that this will not be necessary for the foreseeable future as the virus continues to evolve and more and more people develop immunity. But we cannot predict the future. We have learned from this virus to be humble about what is next. What we can say is that we promised from the very beginning to follow the public health advice from our world-class experts at UVA. As leaders of this University, we will do our very best to continue to do exactly that.
Chief Operating Officer
K. Craig Kent, M.D.
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, University of Virginia
Chief Executive Officer, UVA Health