COVID-19 protocols at Washington State University are being tweaked once again, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine Monday.
The move means students will no longer be eligible for personal or philosophical exemptions to the school’s vaccine mandate. Those who previously received such exemptions will have 45 days to get vaccinated, or apply for a medical or religious exemption.
WSU officials announced the new vaccine protocols earlier this month. The 45-day clock started ticking Monday, after the Pfizer vaccine received full approval.
Students who haven’t requested or received an exemption have until Sept. 10 to get fully vaccinated.
Phil Weiler, WSU’s vice president for marketing and communications, noted that vaccination requirements and exemptions available for students now coincide with those for employees.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “announced Wednesday that all education employees, including higher education, have to be vaccinated as a condition of employment,” Weiler said. “His mandate also doesn’t allow personal or philosophical exemptions, so the requirements for students and employees are now the same.”
The deadline is slightly different, though, as employees have until Oct. 18 to get fully vaccinated or get a medical or religious exemption.
Weiler said WSU is also in the process of updating the criteria for granting medical or religious exemptions, so they’re consistent for students and employees and align with the state and other major employers.
“We hope to have that available in the next week or 10 days,” he said. “Once that happens, students who previously received a medical or religious exemption will need to resubmit their information, to make sure they’re compliant.”
Similarly, WSU employees previously had to declare their vaccination status, but didn’t actually need to prove it by showing a vaccination card.
Given the governor’s new education mandate, Weiler said, “employees who previously declared their vaccination status will have to redo that step and actually show proof.”
Inslee also required that face masks be worn in public, indoor locations, regardless of vaccination status. That mandate took effect Monday.
Monday was the first day of classes at WSU. Weiler noted that 62.2% of students are fully compliant with the school’s COVID-19 protocols, meaning they’ve been vaccinated or received an exemption.
Of those, he said, nearly 94% chose to get vaccinated.