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UW-Madison Officials Expect To Reach 80 Percent Campus COVID-19 Vaccination Goal

Despite Absence Of Vaccine Mandate, Campus Data Show Strong Vaccination Numbers Among Staff, Students

People wearing mask because of the pandemic
Pedestrians wearing masks on Wednesday, Aug 5, 2020, at UW-Madison. Angela Major/WPR

Officials at the University of Wisconsin-Madison say that even without a vaccine mandate, they expect at least 80 percent of the campus population will be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall.

Jake Baggott, UW-Madison vice chancellor and university health director, said getting 80 percent of the people on campus vaccinated is an “ambitious but attainable goal.” He said that is because a majority of employees have already gotten doses.

“The data that we have show that, basically, three-quarters of them already are vaccinated or have had at least one dose,” he said.

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As for students, Baggott said before the end of the spring semester, campus data showed more than 50 percent had received at least one vaccine shot.

“We’ve done some surveys, in particular, of our housing residents,” said Baggott. “And while the results aren’t complete, we’ve got a very strong response rate and well over 90 percent are reporting being fully vaccinated with more than indicating that they plan to get vaccinated.”

He said based on early data, he and other campus leaders expect to reach or surpass the goal of having 80 percent of the UW-Madison population fully vaccinated during the fall semester, which starts in September.

“And what’s really important is that as many people get vaccinated as possible because we know how effective that is to stopping the spread,” said Baggott.

In June, UW System interim President Tommy Thompson said he wouldn’t mandate coronavirus vaccinations at state campuses. But Thompson did offer incentives to students to get the shots. In April, he announced that students who prove they’ve been vaccinated will be able to opt out of routine COVID-19 testing requirements.

National data show that more than 500 universities across the U.S. are planning to require vaccinations for students and employees.

In Wisconsin, some private schools like Marquette University have also announced vaccine mandates.