The University of Hawaii said students must be vaccinated against COVID-19 before registering for in-person or hybrid courses for the spring 2022 semester.
UH began the fall semester this year offering unvaccinated students the option of undergoing a mandatory, weekly COVID-19 test to be on any of its 10 campuses. That option, however, will no longer be available starting Jan. 3, officials said.
“Whether you still need to get vaccinated or are going to request an exemption, please plan ahead so you will be able to register for the spring 2022 courses that you need or want,” said Hae Okimoto, UH Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, in an email Tuesday to students.
Students who have not submitted their COVID-19 vaccine information or received a medical or religious exemption will only be able to register for online classes for the spring semester.
In May, UH had announced that students would be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend in-person classes or to be on any of the University of Hawaii’s 10 campuses as part of health clearance requirements. UH already requires students to have clearance from tuberculosis, as well as immunizations for measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis and varicella.
At the time, however, UH officials said the requirement would take effect if at least one of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for emergency use authorization received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In mid-July, UH said it would not enforce vaccination requirements for the fall semester – with the exception of those living in on-campus housing at UH-Manoa and UH-Hilo — because none had yet received this approval.
The Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval for those ages 16 and up on Aug. 23, the same day classes began, but officials said the semester was already underway, with student residents already on campus.
Students may still request exemptions for medical or religious reasons, which can be submitted online for review by their campus Student Health Services or Registrar’s Office. Students who receive exemptions, however, will still be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test weekly to be on campus.
Some clinicals, labs, and field work, however, will require vaccinations without exception, UH said, because safe physical distancing can not be maintained.
More than 60% students are still online for the fall semester, according to spokesman Dan Meisenzahl.
In a week-long survey conducted in early August, UH found that more than 90% of students at all 10 campuses have been vaccinated or plan to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The survey included responses from 45,930 students, or about 27% of UH students registered for the fall semester.
Of those surveyed, 83.4% said they were fully vaccinated, while 4.3% said they were partially vaccinated, and 2.6% said they planned to get vaccinated.
The remaining 9.4% said they were not vaccinated. Of those who said they were unvaccinated, 47% said they would only do so upon full FDA approval of a vaccine, and 37% said they preferred not to be and planned to take courses online.
Registration for classes in the spring semester begins in early November.
To register for on-campus and hybrid courses, students must upload their COVID-19 vaccination information and card to the LumiSight app by their registration date.