SALT LAKE CITY — Sheena Barnes-Allan is a University of Utah student who is OK with vaccines — just not mandates.
“I’m personally vaccinated,” she said, “but that was a choice that I was made, and I wasn’t forced to do it, and I think that’s where people kind of draw the lines.”
Made to or not, Utah college students are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at a higher rate than the rest of their peers, according to a FOX 13 survey of campuses. In Utah and nationwide, only about 60% of 18- to 24-year-olds are fully vaccinated.
But among the Utah campuses reporting data, a median of 78% of students are vaccinated.
The private Westminster College, which began requiring vaccines during the semester that just ended, reported the highest rate — 93% of students vaccinated.
Dixie State University said when it surveyed its students, 60% said they got the arm pokes.
Dixie State, Southern Utah University and Snow College are not requiring students to be vaccinated, and the latter two campuses did not report student-specific data.
Brigham Young University, a private school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is strongly encouraging, but not requiring, vaccines and reported 77% of students vaccinated.
University of Utah, Utah State University, Weber State University and Utah Valley University are requiring students to be vaccinated by at least by the semester that begins in a few weeks.
At the University of Utah, 84% of students report being vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the campus’ dashboard. Another 7% reported being partially vaccinated.
Utah State University, Weber State University and Salt Lake Community College report student vaccination percentages in the low 80s or high 70s.
Utah Valley University reported a vaccination rate of 64%
“I think the universities have done a really great job of really working with their student populations,” said Leisha Nolen, the Utah state epidemiologist.
“Last year we saw a lot of outbreaks in universities,” she said. “We would have a large number of students get infected.”
“This year, that’s really not happening. And that’s because we have these huge vaccine percentage. Everyone’s getting vaccinated in the university. It’s working!”
Not every college student wants a shot. The Utah Legislature required public colleges and universities to allow exemptions to vaccine mandates. The reported exemption rates ranged from 7% at the University of Utah to 20% at Salt Lake Community College.