More than 2,000 sign letter urging UK to require vaccinations

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – With the covid surge fueled by the Delta variant still setting records across the state, a group of University of Kentucky faculty senators have urged in an open letter that UK President Dr. Eli Capilouto and the university require students and staff to be vaccinated.

The letter (Open Letter to University of Kentucky Administrators_ Calling for a Vaccine Mandate at UK (1)) has been signed by more than 2,000 people.

The letter cites health and epidemiology experts, the effectiveness of the available vaccines and the the fact voluntary vaccination is not reaching the desired levels to protect the campus community.

“It is urgent that we adopt a vaccine mandate immediately,” the letter states.

The inoversity has developed a policy of mandatory testing for all non-vaccinated staff and students. Disciplinary procedures for those who fail to comply will be announced next week as UK nears the deadline for the testing plan. It also has released incentives to encourage vaccinations, including free sports tickets.

Earlier, Capilouto set a goal of 80% vaccination for the campus community and that goal has been met.

Capilouto has not responded but University spokesperson Jay Blanton said UK continues to monitor and weigh all its options.

“Our goal is to vaccinate as many people in our campus community as quickly as possible. We agree that vaccinations are the best tool – without question – against the virus. It’s why UK led the way in the state this past year in vaccinating now more than 135,000 people throughout the state and on our campus. We’ve been leaders in this important health measure. And we are leaders now in vaccinating members of our community,” Blanton said.

“The question is what’s the best approach to vaccinating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” Blanton continued.

He cited a number of steps the university has taken, rolling out the university’s ‘record’:

  • The university’s approach – using a combination of incentives and disciplinary measures – is working.
  • We’ve increased vaccination rates on our campus nearly 10 percent in less than a month.
  • We are at nearly 80 percent of our on-campus community partially or fully vaccinated. Now, we are taking additional steps to encourage and push members of our community to vaccinate.
  • Last week, we announced an incentive program for employee vaccinations. One already is in place for students and more than 5,000 students have signed up.
  • Next week, we will unveil disciplinary measures for students, faculty and staff as part of a mandatory weekly testing program for members of our community who come to our campus and are unvaccinated.
  • We are seeking additional input over the next few days from elected faculty and staff leaders on those disciplinary measures, which we intend to be substantive and meaningful.
  • The bottom line, though, is that if we were a community in Kentucky we would be among the most vaccinated places in the Commonwealth. That’s how seriously we take our commitment to the health, safety and well-being of everyone in our community and everyone we serve throughout the state.
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