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New UW Immunization Policy

Background

Institutions of higher education are settings in which the spread of communicable disease amongst students is a frequent occurrence. This policy was developed to focus specifically on vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD) and screening for other treatable communicable diseases (e.g., tuberculosis). The goal for the recommendations outlined below focuses on protecting the University of Washington campuses from outbreaks of infectious diseases, minimizing a campus outbreak, not on individual health safety. A secondary goal is to educate students about other vaccinations to promote/protect general health. The task forces focused solely on undergraduate and graduate students. Faculty and staff are not subject to these requirements because research indicates they do not present the same health risk to the campus.

The group members evaluated current public health recommendations and developed a list of required and recommended immunization as well as screening criteria. The relevant medical literature was reviewed to construct recommendations appropriate for the University of Washington.

New requirement – effective for Fall 2019 entry

The required recommendations are as follows, with a few exemptions based on the age of a student:

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccine: Students born before 1957 are considered immune to measles and do not need to provide MMR immunization data (or lab evidence of immunity). People born before 1957 lived through several years of epidemic measles before the first measles vaccine was licensed in 1963. As a result, these people are very likely to have had the measles disease.

Meningococcal Quadrivalent (A,C,Y,W-135) Vaccine: Students over the age of 21 (as of the first day of classes for the enrolled quarter) do not need to provide Meningococcal Quadrivalent data (or lab evidence of immunity). The purpose for the age cutoff is due to the three main age ranges in which meningococcal disease is seen at a higher rate than the baseline population (infants less than 1 yr of age, 16-21 year olds, and >65 years of age). Although meningococcal disease is uncommon, there is increased risk in 16-21 year olds. Protection from the vaccine lasts approximately 5 years. Vaccination strategies are tailored to help populations who are at increased risk. Routinely vaccinating after age 21 does not have a measurable impact on reducing rates of meningococcal disease.

To whom does the new requirement apply?

The task force members provided recommendations that were comprehensive and ensured access for all types of students, acknowledging challenges for various student populations.

In addition to all other undergraduate, graduate, and professional students not listed below, students who register through Continuum College, including matriculated degree-seeking, graduate non-matriculated, and International & English Language Program students, must comply with the immunization requirements.

Due to length, duration and/or off-campus locations, the following populations are currently not required to meet immunization requirements:

  • Summer Youth Camps
  • OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute
  • UW in the High School
  • PCE Certificate Programs
  • UW Online (100% online courses only)
  • UW Summer Quarter
  • Non-matriculated (non-graduate) students

Finally, these recommendations apply to all three UW campuses: Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma.

Recommended immunization policy & procedures

The University of Washington requires verification of Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) and Meningococcal Quadrivalent (A,C,Y,W-135) immunity for all Fall 2019 and beyond incoming students taking in-person classes (matriculated and non-matriculated) as a public health measure in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Students must submit proof of immunity in order to attend classes on any campus at the UW.  Medical exemptions and personal/philosophical/religious exemptions to vaccination requirements will be considered on a case by case basis.

Required Details
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine Specific vaccination requirement: 2 doses of MMR vaccine at least 28 days apart, after 12 months of age, OR laboratory evidence of immunity (titres) to both measles and mumps. Students born before 1957 are considered immune to measles and do not need to provide MMR immunization data (or lab evidence of immunity). A +/- 4-day window on dates will be used for either birthday or for the timing of vaccinations.
Meningococcal quadrivalent (A,C,Y,W-135) vaccine Specific vaccination requirement: at least one vaccination on or after 16 years of age. Students over the age of 21 (as of the first day of classes for the enrolled quarter) do not need to provide Meningococcal Quadrivalent data (or lab evidence of immunity). A +/- 4-day window on dates will be used for either birthday or for the timing of vaccinations.

In addition to required vaccines students are encouraged to review these additional, recommended vaccines:

  • Diptheria-Tetanus-Pertussis
  • Varicella (chicken pox)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Polio
  • Annual influenza vaccine (flu shot)
  • Serogroup B Meningococcal (may be recommended if at increased risk)

The vaccinations listed above are provided for general health information. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provide specific indications/recommendations for each of these vaccines, which you should discuss with your healthcare provider.

Meeting the Requirement

All incoming students should submit their documentation by the first day of classes of their entering quarter. The University will give a grace period to complete the requirement within one quarter.

If the requirement is not satisfied before the first day of classes, the University will place a hold on the student’s registration. The hold will go into effect to prevent registration for the upcoming quarter on Saturday, 12:01 a.m. following the 4th Friday of the quarter.   

In order for the University to leverage central resources and provide timely communications, all students will upload documentation through the centralized Hall Health Center document management system.

Additional information

Learn about the current UW immunization requirement here.

For more information about the upcoming requirement, email hhpccweb@uw.edu.