Western to No Longer Require COVID Vaccinations Starting Summer Quarter

Dear Western community,

Beginning June 12, 2023, Western will no longer require proof of COVID vaccination for students, employees, or contractors. This decision follows policy changes at the national and state levels, as well as at several other higher education institutions in Washington.

In the initial stages of the pandemic, requiring the COVID19 vaccine was essential to protect the health and safety of Western’s campus and of our community. This decision was made with the best available evidence and guidelines from public health authorities and was consistent with COVID19 emergency orders put in place by Governor Jay Inslee.

Nearly three years later, we find ourselves in a very different place: the severity of COVID19 infections and the associated strain on healthcare systems have diminished; state and federal emergency orders are being lifted; the primary series of the COVID vaccines are no longer as effective as they used to be against new variants of the virus; and although vaccine boosters are an important part of a strategy against COVID, they are dependent on so many variables that mandating them would pose significant challenges.


What Isn’t Changing

One of the greatest lessons learned over the last three years was how vital our own actions are to impacting the health of those around us. COVID for most of us was the first time we realized we could be transmitting a potentially deadly virus to our friends, families and loved ones before we even realized we were sick. It forced us into new habits and, in a way, led to a sea change in how we understand our responsibilities to those around us.

Washing our hands and wearing masks continue to be critical measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Staying up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines remains the most important step to protect yourself and your community. Western will continue to host vaccination and booster clinics on campus during the next academic year and has committed to running its state-of-the-art ventilation systems – so important to reducing person-to-person infections in classrooms, lab spaces, and libraries.

It appears that like the common flu virus, COVID is going to be part of our life, so we need to continue staying home when we are sick, show support of those choosing to mask and obtain our boosters.

In many ways, this announcement is a bit of the bookend statement to its counterpart more than three years ago when the university sent everyone home for what we thought at the time would be a few weeks of remote work. The world has changed so much since then, but Western’s commitment to keeping you safe has not. In that intervening time, the incredibly dedicated staff at the Student Health Center administered more than 61,000 COVID tests; the amazing Isolation and Quarantine teams moved more than 700 students to campus residence areas reserved for those with COVID; and nearly 3,000 COVID vaccinations and boosters were administered at on-campus clinics.

While COVID will never be “over,” we have many reasons as a university community to feel very proud about successfully exiting this major stage of the pandemic process together.

Questions ?

If you have questions, please send them to covidcoordinationresilience@wwu.edu.


Darin Rasmussen MBA, CSRM | He/His
Assistant Vice President, Risk, Ethics, Safety, and Resilience
COVID Coordination Planning Team Coordinator