LEXINGTON, Ky. — An open letter in Lexington has collected more than 2,000 signatures asking the University of Kentucky administration to consider creating a vaccine mandate on campus.

What You Need To Know

  • An open letter has been presented to the president and acting provost

  • The University of Kentucky currently does not have a vaccine mandate 

  • The open letter is requesting the university require vaccinations to be on campus 

  • As of Sept. 15, 85.4% of the campus is fully vaccinated

This month, Jerry Woodward, a professor at UK, along with other faculty members, presented an open letter to the president of the university, asking for the school to require everyone who attends or works at the school to be fully vaccinated.

“We could, as a university, set an example. And we should as an academic institution that we value and realize the truth. We value the scientific evidence, and we really need to require vaccination. I can’t force everybody to get vaccinated, but if they want to attend the university, we feel that we can and should require them,” Woodward said.

The open letter has statistics and information from public health officials to support their recommendation, with over 2,400 signatures in support. 

The letter states that currently, UK requires proof of meningitis and influenza vaccinations for students living on campus, and says a COVID-19 vaccination requirement would be similar to those requirements.

Another point the letter makes is that there are limitations to voluntary vaccinations, and according to a survey from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 20% of Kentucky adults are actively hesitant to be vaccinated. 

Woodward said not having a mandate is making some faculty members and students uncomfortable on campus. 

“It’s created, I think, a problem in classrooms, between faculty and students, even though you're now back in classroom teaching, there is still a very uncertain situation, in which students in our classroom are vaccinated or not. It’s a very uncomfortable situation,” Woodward said.

In response, the UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said UK’s President Eli Capilouto believes the protocols in place are working to keep everyone safe.

“We've been able to move vaccination rates to a really high level without that mandate. And with that sort of testing protocol in place, we think we're making a lot of progress,” Blanton said.

Currently, the university has an indoor mask mandate and encourages the vaccine and weekly testing for those unvaccinated. 

According to UK, as of Sept. 20, 86.1% of the campus is fully vaccinated or in the process of becoming vaccinated.

“I think we all share the goal, regardless of where we are on the question of mandates for vaccines or not. We all want to see, I think on this campus, there's a great commitment across every part of our community to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” Blanton said.