Following in the footsteps of Davis Technical College, Westminster, Utah Valley University and the University of Utah, Salt Lake Community College announced Sept. 3 it will require all students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the upcoming spring 2022 semester.
As registration opened recently on Oct. 28, many students still have questions about what exactly is required to attend.
According to SLCC’s blog, The Fountain, “fully vaccinated” means two weeks after the second vaccination dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine or two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Booster shots, recently approved for Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients, are not yet required by SLCC.
Exemptions can be requested for religious, medical or personal reasons, and students must submit an exemption or proof they are fully vaccinated before they can register for the spring semester.
Documentation is only required for those who are vaccinated. SLCC is bound by Utah law to accept exemptions without documentation.
Proponents of the mandate have argued that a system that allows exemptions to be granted for multiple reasons leaves the school in potentially as vulnerable of a state as before the vaccine requirement was announced.
In an interview with CBS, Dr. Peter Chin Hong, an infectious disease physician at the University of California San Francisco, said, “The only real exemption I can imagine is severe allergic reaction mainly in the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, but they are very, very rare – like one in a million.”
44 of 50 states in the U.S. permit religious and personal exemptions for vaccinations within schools, according to ABC News.
Erika Shubin, SLCC’s director of strategic communications and public relations and a member of the COVID-19 Task Force, explained that medical and religious exemptions are supported by medical providers or clergy members but no documentation is required for either under Utah law.
“The [online] process will simply ask any student seeking an exemption to indicate whether the exemption is medical, religious or personal,” she said.
For some students, like Doug Cutter, the vaccine requirement isn’t a concern.
“I got a vaccine early on, so I haven’t thought at all about any exemptions,” he said.
Maron Cook, who is majoring in pre-health sciences and fashion, said she’s supportive of the requirement.
“It would be nice if documentation was required, but I get the whole privacy thing. I just hope people will be responsible,” she said.
Submitting either a vaccination card or an exemption can be done through the registration page for the 2022 spring semester. The process, Shubin said, should be straightforward and easy to follow.
“We hope that students will be able to easily complete this part of registration so they can continue their studies at SLCC,” she said.