COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Comes with Medical, Personal and Religious Exemptions


(Courtesy Pexels)

By Stephanie Hong, News Writer


The University of Utah announced a mandate for COVID-19 vaccines on campus on Aug. 31, however, students can also fill out an exemption form from the requirement that will be assessed by Immunization Program Office of the Student Health Center

“The U campus has about 10 to 15 positive cases a day,” said Kimberley Shoaf, a professor in the division of public health at the U. “We are back … in person, and we’ve got a lot of people who are being potentially exposed to COVID-19 [on] campus.”

The U was previously not allowed to mandate vaccines because of House Bill 308 passed by the Utah legislature. However, once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine the ban against mandating that vaccine was no longer applied.

In the 2021 General Session, the legislature also passed House Bill 233, which states universities have to allow vaccine exemptions based on religious and personal beliefs, as well as medical.

According to Shoaf, the personal exemption generally has meant the reason needs to be a deep personal belief or problem that the campus department can accept. Religious exemptions are classified as types of personal exemptions, and people have to present religious reason why they cannot get vaccinated.

“Medical exemptions indicate you have some condition — that if you were to get the vaccine, it would be dangerous for you,” Shoaf said. “[The] most accepted medical exemption is an allergy to the vaccine.”

Shoaf said if someone else has an allergic reaction to the first shot or know they are allergic to some component of the vaccine they should first try and get another approved vaccine.

“There are three COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved in the United States: Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna,” Shoaf said.

If there is an allergic reaction to all three vaccines, it is considered too harmful or risky for the person to take. People who get an exemption are highly recommended to follow quarantine rules thoroughly.

“The announcement of the requirement was Aug. 31 when all students were emailed,” said Kerry Hill, an immunization program manager at U Student Health Center. “Students need to submit their vaccination dates or file an exemption by Sept. 30 or a registration hold will be placed preventing enrollment in the next semester.”

The U has not announced alternatives for students who get exemption from vaccines. People who are not vaccinated are advised to monitor for any symptoms and get tested if they develop them and not attend class until their results are back.

“Routine asymptomatic testing is also available on campus, and if they are exposed, they will need to quarantine per contact tracing team guidelines,” Hill said. “Completing the requirement as early as possible will prevent holds impacting registration for spring semester classes.”

For more information about the campus vaccine, visit the U health care website.


[email protected]