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More universities announce vaccine mandates

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Wayne State University is the latest Michigan university to mandate vaccines, announcing on Tuesday that all students, faculty and staff who will be on campus for the fall semester must prove they’re vaccinated by Aug. 30 or be approved for waiver based on health or religious reasons. The university is also requiring everyone to wear a mask indoors until at least mid-September.

Laurie Lauzon Clabo, Wayne State’s Chief Health and Wellness Officer, says the decision was made after university officials watched the COVID-19 positivity rate in Detroit increase from 2.5% to 3.3%.

“And while that is not a terribly disturbing number, it is trending in the wrong direction," Clabo said. "And we all know that the evidence suggests that the best way for us to protect the health of students, faculty and staff on our campus is to have universal vaccine.”

The CDC says the delta variant is more contagious than the common cold and smallpox and just as contagious as the chickenpox.

Individuals with an approved waiver for health or religious reasons will be allowed on campus if they get tested for COVID-19 once a week. Clabo says there are a few reasons why people may be exempt.

“Individuals who have had a prior serious allergic reaction to either a first dose of one of the vaccines, or to a component of one of the vaccines. There are some instances where early pregnancy may be considered a time-limited reason not to receive the vaccine,” she says.

Clabo says waivers may also be permitted for people who explain why they can’t be vaccinated for religious reasons.

Wayne State students, faculty and staff have until Aug. 30 to submit proof of vaccination. Clabo says if someone lost the card, they can get a replacement card by contacting their primary care doctor. “Everyone in the state of Michigan who’s received a vaccine is recorded in a state system,” she says.

People who violate the vaccine mandate will face consequences, according to an email sent Tuesday to the campus community.

“The Wayne State Student Code of Conduct requires that students comply with COVID-related policies,” Clabo says. “The code was changed last year to include that. And those students will be reported to the Dean of Students Office and that office will deal with progressive discipline.”

Clabo says the university is addressing what the consequences will be for faculty and staff.

“We want to give people every opportunity through the fall semester to get vaccinated or to choose that they will work at home if they are unable to be vaccinated. And those policies will likely vary by classification of faculty, staff and students and various roles and probably a one-size fits all answer doesn’t apply.”

Wayne State’s mandate follows similar requirements announced by the University of Michigan, Michigan State, and other higher learning institutions over the past week.

Laura Herberg