BYU-I president asks students to spiritually consider getting COVID-19 vaccine
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REXBURG — The president of Brigham Young University-Idaho is asking students to personally and spiritually consider getting vaccinated before returning to campus for the Fall semester.
“Time is of the essence,” BYU-Idaho President Henry J. Eyring said in in a 7-minute video message recently posted on the university’s website.
“The most common vaccines require a three to four-week follow-up shot and now we are just six weeks from the beginning of the fall semester. For that reason, my invitation is for you to ponder, decide and perhaps act soon,” he said.
The BYU-Idaho campus brings around 20,000 students every semester to Rexburg, making up a large portion of the community. Eyring said if the school had to reduce operations again and implement remote learning because of another COVID-19 outbreak, it could put a strain on the community.
“An outbreak of the virus on our campus could significantly impact the surrounding area, including medical resources, particularly hospitals,” Eyring said.
Eyring’s pre-semester message comes in contrast to other messages he’s published online. In previous videos Eyring has appeared in a less formal way, including swimming in his dress attire or dressing for a Safari through the campus greenhouse. This time Eyring stood at a podium dressed in a suit, taking off his mask as he approached the microphone.
“Usually, I try to be funny in videos, as you know,” Eyring said. “At this time, though, we face serious medical threats and associated decisions.”
During his request to have students look at vaccination, Eyring said around 50% of the BYU-Idaho student body already received COVID-19 vaccines.
When asked how that percentage was calculated, a BYU-Idaho spokesman declined to answer. In general, BYU-Idaho has a policy to not answer questions from the media.
So far, BYU-Idaho has not implemented any vaccination requirements on its campus.
Last week, BYU-Idaho’s sister school in Provo, Utah, announced it will require students to disclose their vaccination status, but not require them to be vaccinated. BYU-Hawaii announced last month that it will require COVID-19 immunization for students beginning in the fall semester.
All three schools are owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but each school has developed its own policies related to the pandemic.
The church itself has been pro-vaccination, and members have been encouraged to take advantage of the vaccine.
When the new BYU-Idaho semester starts in early September, masks will still be required in all campus buildings for the first two weeks. The university says it will review the policy at that point.
For the latest COVID-19 information visit the EastIdahoNews.com coronavirus webpage.