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Portland Community College cites vaccine hesitancy and high immunization rates

PMG FILE PHOTO - Portland Community College's Willow Creek Center in Hillsboro. PCC announced it will not require COVID-19 vaccines for its students and staff.Portland Community College won't require its staff or students to be vaccinated this fall, the college announced Monday, June 21.

While in-person classes will be held for the upcoming fall term, PCC won't require vaccination as a condition of enrollment or employment, for several reasons.

The community college says the rate of vaccination among staff and students already exceeds the statewide goal of 70% according to surveys the college conducted. Moreover, not everyone is on board with getting the shots.

"Because vaccination access and hesitancy looks different across racial lines, vaccination requirements create a barrier to educational access that will disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)," a PCC news release states. "This would not reflect PCC's institutional values of equity, inclusion and belonging."

PCC also said it will never reach a 100% vaccination rate, due to medical and personal exemptions.

The decision came from the college's COVID-19 Opening Leadership Team and PCC's president, Mark Mitsui.

PCC's announcement comes after several colleges and universities announced they will require students and staff to be vaccinated before returning on campus.

Both the University of Oregon and University of Portland will require all staff, students and faculty to have the vaccine before the fall term. University of Portland employees must provide proof of vaccination by Aug. 1, while students must show proof by Sept. 1. The university said it will work with anyone who has issues getting access to the vaccine.

Similarly, Portland State University will also require all students to have a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to fall classes on campus. PSU held a vaccine clinic in May and said it will continue to provide COVID-19 tests and vaccines at its student health and counseling center.

PCC and many community colleges are not requiring COVID-19 vaccines.

"While many public universities are requiring vaccination, no community colleges in Oregon are requiring vaccination of all students, and few community colleges across the country are making vaccination a requirement for enrollment," PCC stated in its announcement. "This trend is aligned with the open access mission of community colleges, a value that is core to PCC."

Courtney Vaughn
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