All of Oregon’s public universities to require COVID-19 vaccinations or exemptions

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
June 3, 2021 9:19 p.m.

The Oregon Institute of Technology and Eastern Oregon University were the state’s last public universities to announce these requirement

It’s unanimous. With recent announcements from Eastern Oregon University and the Oregon Institute of Technology, all of Oregon’s public universities will be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations this fall.

OIT made its announcement Wednesday afternoon, and EOU followed on Thursday. Like all of Oregon’s other public universities, both OIT and EOU will require vaccinations for students, faculty and staff — except with legally accepted exemptions.


“We deliberated this decision at length, evaluated science and public health recommendations, and surveyed the EOU community to identify the best path to restoring a healthy, highly engaged community for those who work and learn on our campus,” EOU President Tom Insko said in a statement Thursday.

Eastern Oregon University was one of the founding higher education partners in Eastern Promise. Its professors work with public school teachers to ensure high schoolers are doing college-level work in college credit courses.

With Eastern Oregon University announcing a COVID-19 vaccine requirement on Thursday, all of the state's public universities now have vaccine mandates in place for this coming fall.

Rob Manning / OPB

In a board meeting last month, Insko said that many students and faculty were split on the decision to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a survey. In that survey, the majority of faculty at EOU were in favor of a vaccine mandate, while the majority of students were against one.

Eastern will officially require COVID-19 vaccinations when the FDA fully approves one or more of the vaccines. Both Pfizer and Moderna have started the monthslong process of getting full approval and the FDA has indicated they’re “highly likely” to be approved later in 2021. But EOU officials don’t want members of the campus community waiting for that, emphasizing in a news release, that it “strongly encourages students, employees and partners to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.”

EOU said it will require vaccinations for all students and employees who learn or work on campus. Students who attend class fully online and who don’t engage in any on-campus activities will not be required to be vaccinated.

“Ultimately, as with every decision related to the pandemic, we are focused on protecting the safety and health of the EOU community, and returning to a highly engaged, in-person, on-campus experience that upholds our mission and shared values,” Insko said in his statement. “We remain committed to providing all students with the greatest educational opportunities possible in preparation for success after graduation.”

Both EOU and OIT say they will provide more information on how to request an exemption or submit proof of vaccination.