UH-Manoa offers vaccine clinic as administrators ‘seriously’ consider mandating shot

Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 5:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 200 students got vaccinated at the UH-Manoa campus on Friday thanks to a clinic coordinated by the university, Safeway and Department of Health.

The clinic comes as the University of Hawaii considers mandating students be vaccinated.

“Our level of vaccine hesitancy is pretty low so we are really quite pleased with that,” said UH President David Lassner, adding that other shots (like the measles vaccine) are already mandatory for students.

He said requiring that students get the COVID vaccine is “something that we are seriously looking at.”

“We have quite a few parents in particular saying, ‘Please tell me you are going to have a vaccine mandate. I want my kid to be safe.’”

Lassner says there are strong feelings against a mandate as well.

UH is examining the potential legal, enforcement, privacy and union issues. He says any mandate would need to provide religious and medical exemptions.

The University of California and California State University have already announced they’ll make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory once the FDA gives full approval. The vaccines are allowed for emergency use, but Pfizer is eyeing the full green light.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 64 campuses ― four of them public ― are mandating vaccinations out of 5,300 colleges and universities across the country.

Sam Winders, 30, supports the idea. He was getting his shot at the vaccine clinic Friday.

“I think some people are religiously against it and stuff like that, but I think overall, it would be a good thing to have,” said Winders.

For now, UH is encouraging the vaccine after cases last fall were linked to UH-Manoa students who live in the dorms and an off-campus party.

There were also a cluster of infections linked to spring football practice.

“Those are two high risk groups that you mentioned, student housing residents and our student athletes, so we are really trying to make sure we are trying to get maximum penetration and vaccination with that group,” said Lassner.

“None of those people had access to vaccines at the time it happened,” he added.

Lassner says student athletes have been well advised on behavior.

Kalani High School senior Nyree Valdez, 17, will start at UH in the fall and eagerly rolled up her sleeve when she got the email about the vaccine clinic.

“I just got the vaccine just in case I travel this upcoming winter, but I’m still going to be wearing masks,” she said.

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