Rantz: UW, PLU force vaccines on students but not staff; mask use unknown

May 5, 2021, 6:06 PM | Updated: May 6, 2021, 10:56 am
Colleges, campus outbreaks, UW...
Students at the University of Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

The University of Washington is forcing its students to get the COVID vaccines to return to campus. So is Pacific Lutheran University. But neither school offers such requirements for its staff. And masks? They won’t commit either way.

The UW offers a somewhat confusing excuse for its inconsistent directive. As for PLU, after ignoring multiple requests for comment, a spokesperson finally responded only to offer no comment. Perhaps the silence is due to the policy not making any sense.

Students sit in the demographic least likely to suffer serious complications from COVID-19. On the other hand, the staff is more likely to suffer serious health complications from the coronavirus.

Rantz: High school bribing students into vaccines with graduation credits

Nonsensical positions send a bizarre message

The UW announced its requirement Monday, extending the requirement to students on all three of its campuses in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma.

“Widespread vaccination is the only real way we can put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us and return to a more normal way of living, learning, and working,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce wrote in a message to the UW community.

PLU President Allan Belton announced the policy in an email to undergraduates and graduates last week. There will be exceptions only for medical or religious reasons. They will host free vaccination events to help students get the shots.

“This policy is similar to our current requirements for measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination,” Belton explained.

Neither school requires staff to get the shots, though for different reasons.

Rantz: Inslee brings vaccine passports, segregation to stadiums, colleges, churches

Vaccines for students but not teachers?

It makes very little sense for young, healthy students to get vaccines but not older staff members, given the risks from COVID.

“We made the call about students now because we wanted to urge them to get vaccinated now if they plan to return home for the summer,” UW spokesperson Victor Balta tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “As a state employer, faculty and staff decisions such as these require some additional consultation with our leadership and the state.”

But the UW also employs students as staff. And Washington State University, a public school, is compelling staff to get the vaccine. I suspect this decision is due to union pushback, but Balta said he was “not aware of any formal conversations with unions regarding the vaccination requirement.”

At PLU, spokesperson Zach Powers initially ignored two emails and a phone call asking about their decision to force the vaccine on students but not staff.

Finally, Powers responded with a statement unrelated to my question. When I asked for a response to the question I asked, he said, “We don’t have any additional comment.” I suppose when one can’t defend a position, it makes sense not to dig a hole you can’t get out of.

Even less sense: masks

Will masks be required for students and staff? It remains unclear, but it’s a possibility.

Balta says a decision on wearing masks hasn’t been made yet. The UW will “continue to follow public health guidance as it evolves over the months to come,” he said.

PLU’s Powers did not respond to an email seeking comment.

There is no science to justify masks for anyone who is vaccinated. Why get a vaccine if you have to wear a mask?

None of this makes sense

To force a vaccine on an otherwise healthy student makes little sense. For a public school, it’s especially unconscionable.

For starters, many of these students may have already contracted COVID and may be naturally immune. We also do not have much data on what a vaccine does to people currently living with natural immunity.

We also know that young, healthy students suffer few consequences of COVID. The risk of death or hospitalization to a college-aged student in good health is less than 0.1% and 1%, respectively. Even when you add comorbidities like obesity and cancer, while the risk of hospitalization goes up, the risk of death remains at 0.1%.

We know more about COVID now than at the start of the pandemic. We have better treatment that makes hospitalization less likely and death incredibly rare for young people. Yet their staff, in a considerably more vulnerable age group, has a vaccine option. That is a suspect and illogical position.

I think individuals should get vaccinations in consultation with their doctors. That’s what I did. It’s fair to ask questions without being called an anti-vaxxer. Save that label for people who literally don’t want you getting vaccines. I want you to get it if you and your doctor agree; I just don’t want it forced on you.

It should be an option for both students and staff. The vaccine is widely available. We know the COVID risks. It’s time to let adults make up their own minds rather than selectively deciding who will have the vaccines mandated for them.

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler and like me on Facebook

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

police, consent decree...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Seattle Mayor downplays crisis, falsely says only 24 officers didn’t turn in vaccine paperwork

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told reporters on Monday that "only about two dozen officers have not put in their [vaccine] paperwork" ahead of the midnight deadline.
22 hours ago
unvaccinated officers Seattle...
KTTH staff

Seattle mayor: ‘About two dozen’ SPD officers have yet to submit proof of vaccination

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and interim Chief Adrian Diaz both submitted final pleas to unvaccinated officers over the weekend. 
22 hours ago
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Trooper tells Gov. Inslee to ‘kiss my…’ in final sign-off before vaccine mandate

A 22-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol signed off from his final shift with some parting words for Governor Jay Inslee: "Kiss my..."
2 days ago
Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, unvaccinated officers, seattle police...
Stephanie Klein

Seattle Police Chief asks officers to submit vaccine paperwork

As the Oct. 18 deadline to prove COVID-19 vaccination or risk losing a job looms, Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz sent a heartfelt memo to officers letting them know he doesn't want to lose them.
3 days ago
Bothell Mayor...
KTTH staff

Former Bothell mayor cautions ‘defund the police’ is on November ballot

Former Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb breaks down November's municipal elections, and why the city has to mobilize against 'defund the police.'
4 days ago
Kathy Lambert...
KTTH staff

Councilmember Kathy Lambert decries recent demotion as ‘unacceptable, dirty politics’

In a KTTH interview, King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert explicates her belief that she's being silenced over her political positions.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles


How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Courtesy of JWatch Photography....
Experience Anacortes

Summer Fun Activities in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Rantz: UW, PLU force vaccines on students but not staff; mask use unknown