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UW to require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees by fall

UW employees must confirm they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before going back on campus.

SEATTLE — Editor's note: The above video on UW students being required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 originally aired in May 2021.

The University of Washington will require all employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to campus in fall.

UW announced the policy Thursday saying all employees will need to confirm their vaccine status to work on campus or within facilities. Staff will be allowed exemptions for medical, religious or philosophical reasons.

“Widespread vaccination is our ticket to a return to in-person learning and working as we create the 'new normal' for our University, and we encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as you’re able,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce said in a letter to staff.

The university will share information in early summer on how employees can confirm their vaccination or apply for an exemption. UW will also share how the requirement interacts with the existing UW Medicine employee vaccine survey as well as an application for faculty or staff affiliates who do not come to campus.

RELATED: Inslee to unveil new COVID-19 vaccine incentives alongside Washington lottery director Thursday

The university plans to return to in-person classes and activities in fall quarter.

UW announced in early May that students would be required to be vaccinated by fall quarter. Students have the same exemption options as staff.

Several other universities in Washington like Washington State University, Seattle University and Pacific Lutheran University are also requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to campus.

Legally, experts say employers are allowed to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory with some exceptions, including medical exemptions. Employers can require employees to take safety measures, and “employers generally have wide scope” to make rules for the workplace, according to Dorit Reiss, a law professor who specializes in vaccine policies at the University of California Hastings College of the Law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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