A four-story building with several trees in front of it and a sign that says West Hall.
One of the residence halls at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where student’s in dorms on campus this fall must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Alaska Public Media/Tegan Hanlon )

Students living in dorms at the University of Alaska Anchorage this fall must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19

UAA said the shots are highly encouraged before they move in. If not, students have 45 days to get vaccinated if they want to remain in campus housing. 

“To minimize the chance of community spread, which would be detrimental to the academic pursuits of large numbers of students, UAA requires that all residents be fully vaccinated for COVID-19,” Bruce Schultz, UAA’s vice chancellor for student affairs, wrote by email.

The new vaccine requirements from Alaska’s largest university come as colleges across the U.S. try to determine how to best protect their campuses against COVID-19, while navigating the rise of the highly-contagious delta variant plus politics and legal questions.

UAA says its Dean of Students Office will review any requests for a waiver from the vaccine requirement. 

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Roughly 400 students are expected to live in the university’s residence halls and apartments this fall, according to Schultz. They share lounges, kitchens and bathrooms. Schultz said the university already requires students to show proof of other immunizations. Now, the COVID-19 vaccine will be added to the list.

The University of Alaska Southeast, based in Juneau, is planning a similar policy for this fall. Unless students living on campus have a religious or medical exemption, they must get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the University of Alaska Fairbanks said it will require students living in dorms at its Bethel campus to be vaccinated due to limited health care facilities in the region. 

UAF Chancellor Dan White said Tuesday he’s still weighing whether to require vaccinations for students living in residence halls at the main campus in Fairbanks. Students can request a vaccinated roommate.

UAA, UAF and UAS are all part of the public University of Alaska system. While the decision on vaccination requirements was left to each university, UA does have a systemwide policy on face masks. UA President Pat Pitney announced last week everyone must mask up again inside UA buildings in communities with high or substantial spread of the coronavirus, as well as outside, if it’s impossible to stay 6-feet away from others.

Nearby UAA in Anchorage, smaller Alaska Pacific University is also requiring masks. It’s strongly encouraging students to get vaccinated, and said it may be required to participate in certain activities.

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