The University of New Mexico announced it will not require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus this August. Currently, available vaccines are still under Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA, so UNM opted not to require vaccination during the Fall semester, however, UNM will continue to strongly urge its community to get vaccinated for the safety of one and all.
“We know that bringing our campus together, and keeping us together safely, requires wide-scale vaccination,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes in a campuswide email Thursday. “I know we have grown weary over more than a year of pandemic restrictions, but it is more important than ever to maximize vaccinations before we return for the fall. UNM’s approach is going to be strongly encouraging vaccination for all and doing everything we can to get every Lobo fully vaccinated.”
After more than a year of mostly remote learning and working, mask mandates and testing, UNM is approaching its full return to campus this fall with a sense of optimism and renewed purpose. Over the past 16 months, UNM has listened to the guidance, perspective and concern from students and their families, faculty and staff, and highly skilled medical experts at the UNM Health Sciences Center (HSC), who have been on the front lines for 18 months.
UNM has set an “aspirational goal” of 100 percent vaccination for its community and will make vaccination clinics available during move-in and Welcome Back Days in August, as well as at other special events that will take place at the UNM SUB and other campus locations. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to check the Bringing Back the Pack site for forthcoming specific locations and times. UNM is also discussing various vaccination incentive drives and other similar promotional efforts as well as possible challenges with other institutions.
During the pandemic, UNM has put into place many measures for the safety of the campus community including a COVID Dashboard to monitor campus traffic and positive COVID-19 results. Students, faculty and staff receive daily emails to report whether they have any symptoms of the disease and whether or not they are intending to come to campus as part of the daily data available to the campus community.
Many within the campus community have volunteered vaccination status on the UNM COVID-19 Dashboard – outside of UNM Health Sciences employees, more than 10,000 have responded. “Having this initial set of information on UNM vaccinations is important, and I hope we can all continue to encourage one another to be vaccinated and report your status; this is critical to evaluating the safety of our campuses.”
Stokes also touted the efforts of UNM’s Health Sciences Center and its #10to100 Challenge, which explores topics and challenges related to the COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to reach 100 percent vaccination. The UNM HSC currently has a very encouraging 93 percent vaccination rate.
“We are in the distinctive and fortunate position to be home to the State’s only academic medical center – the UNM HSC,” said Stokes. “We have outstanding researchers and practitioners whose expertise and experience inform both our own and the State’s health advisory bodies and who are trusted sources of information within our own University.”
UNM officials continue to urge those who are not vaccinated to continue to wear a mask. If you need a vaccination, you can schedule an appointment 24/7 through the New Mexico Department of Health website.
“Our priority continues to be creating a safe learning, research, patient care, and living environment for both our Lobo and extended communities. I look forward to challenging and inspiring ourselves and our fellow Lobos to reach for that 100 percent in the coming weeks. We will determine intermediate goals that will inform a continuous evaluation process, all of which will be communicated with regular updates."
For more information on UNM's full return to campus, visit The Pack is Back: A Safe Return to Campus.