EWU Community Responds to Updated COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements


Campus photo taken by photographer Emily Powers

By Cannon Barnett, Reporter

The COVID-19 vaccination will no longer be required for those working at or attending EWU effective June 1st, 2023. 

According to an email sent out by the university president, Dr. Shari McMahan, the timing of this decision coincides with the November lifting of the governor’s emergency orders pertaining to the infectious disease, which has affected nearly 152,000 people in Spokane County since 2020. 

“We are in a different place with COVID now. Hospital admissions have declined and we are now seeing COVID variants with reduced severity of health outcomes. We continue to work with our local public health partner to make decisions about COVID processes and requirements,” said Tricia Hughes, Senior Director for Counseling & Wellness Services.

EWU is only one of many institutions that have been revisiting vaccination requirements in Washington. Some of those that have lifted vaccine requirements already include Washington State University and Spokane Falls Community College.

Many on campus are in support of the universities decision for a variety of reasons. Some spoke about having never been in favor of vaccine requirements, while others claimed to be content with going with the flow of safety requirements.

“I’m for it. COVID is in the past, so this is the next step forward in a positive direction.” One student said.

Other students were confused as to why the vaccine requirement for COVID will be dropped, yet the university continues to require MMR vaccinations.

“COVID vaccines and MMR vaccines act in very different ways,” Hughes said about this concern. “Measles and mumps outbreaks have occurred in our region in the past 6 years and are more likely to adversely affect populations like colleges where people are closer together”

Some people on campus were strongly against removing the requirement. While none of those interviewed were worried for their own health, they brought up a variety of concerns, including being worried for the older staff, and individuals with compromised immune systems. A subgroup simply stated that the university’s decision was “stupid”, and refused to elaborate.

“[the lifting of vaccine requirement] is unfortunate. I wish that the school would take the stance to be on the right side of history,” a staff member said. “We shouldn’t get rid of safety precautions for pandemic-level diseases.” 

Removing the vaccine requirement does not mean that covid is no longer a concern. Annika Scharosch, EWU Associate Vice President for Civil Rights, explains that accommodations can still be made for at-risk populations on campus through Student Accommodations and Support Services (for students) or Human Resources (for employees).

EWU’s COVID protocol continues to ask the campus community to stay home if sick and report any positive cases here