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WSU to remove some COVID-19 vaccine exemptions as FDA approves Pfizer vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine Monday.

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University is expected to discontinue personal and philosophical exemptions under the student vaccination requirement now that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The university decided to make the change in preparation for the start of school and all students were notified by email on Aug. 12. After the exemptions are removed, students will have 45 days to start the vaccination process. Students may have the choice to request a religious or medical exemption.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine Monday.

The formula made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech now carries the strongest endorsement from the agency, which has never before had so much evidence to judge a shot’s safety.

More than 200 million Pfizer doses have been administered in the U.S. — and hundreds of millions more worldwide — since December. But up to now, they were dispensed in this country under what is known as emergency use authorization from the FDA.

Gov. Jay Inslee is expanded the statewide COVID-19 vaccination mandate to all K-12 school employees as well as employees of the state's higher education institutions on Aug. 18. 

This means that educators, staff, coaches, bus drivers and school volunteers will have until Oct. 18 to be fully vaccinated or face losing their job.

The mandate makes Washington's school vaccine restrictions the strictest in the nation, according to Inslee's office. Only one other state, California, mandated vaccines for teachers, however, teachers may choose to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing instead. Inslee's mandate does not give school employees that option.  

WSU continues to strongly encourage getting the vaccine to all students, staff and faculty. The university asks its faculty, staff, students, and visitors to re‑familiarize themselves with existing COVID‑19 policies.