UW Should Require the Vax

Over 600 colleges and universities are now requiring that their students and/or their faculty and staff be vaccinated against COVID 19 when they show up this fall. But not the UW. That’s just wrong.

When I wrote about this earlier in the summer I speculated that UW System President and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson was resisting a vax mandate because he didn’t want to provoke the wrath of COVID-denying Republicans while the UW’s budget was subject to their tender mercies.

But if that’s what he was thinking — and he says it wasn’t — then it doesn’t matter now anyway. The Republicans short-changed the UW yet again. Gov. Tony Evers proposed a $192 million increase for the system. Robin Vos and the Republicans gave him just $8 million.

This image on the front of the UW’s home page shows a student in a mask. That’s great, but she might not need it if she were vaccinated.

So, there’s nothing to be lost — and a lot to be gained — by requiring vaccinations. The state’s largest private school, Marquette, is requiring it as is the University of Indiana System among many other large state systems. I pick out IU because, you may have noticed, Indiana is a deep red state. But Thompson has a governor and a board of regents that would certainly back him up, even if Republican legislators didn’t — and given what they did to him in the budget, what else could they do?

Instead of a requirement, Thompson is using incentives. His latest plan is a lottery to give scholarships to a handful of students on any campus that gets to a 70% vaccination rate. His idea is to spur an inter-campus rivalry that will be aided and abetted by campuses offering their own incentives to get stuck. If he won’t do a mandate, I guess his incentive plan is better than nothing.

But with the Delta variant running rampant now, especially among the young and unvaxed, there seems to be a greater need than ever to go straight to a simple requirement. Get vaccinated or stay home.

Welcome to the 158th day of consecutive posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

5 thoughts on “UW Should Require the Vax

  1. A practical question for you Dave: if a student dies or is hospitalized after receiving a mandated vaccine, is the UW responsible?
    Anticipating some possible points – the death rate from Covid for school-age students is statistically zero. The hospitalization rate is extremely low. There is no scientific evidence that the asymptomatic transmit covid. How do you justify the mandate?


    1. Well, of course, 600 other schools have justified the mandate. I assume they’ve considered the pros and cons. As for legal liability, schools have been requiring vaccinations of children for decades. I assume the legal implications of the extremely rare side effects have been worked out by now. Finally, the delta variant is taking off among the unvaccinated. That spread impacts everyone. If healthy young people, who are not seriously impacting by getting it, spread it to less robust populations those people will get sick and some will die. And, lastly, the spread impacts even those of us who have been vaccinated because it is impacting the economic recovery. The benefits of vaccination far, far outweigh the very slim risks.


  2. Thank you for your response Dave. I’ve not heard the 600 number before, if you have a reference, that would be helpful.
    This is an experimental vaccine. Mandating that someone participate in an experiment is unethical and immoral, as well as a violation of the Nuremberg code.
    Please provide references for your assertion that the asymptomatic can spread the infection to less robust populations. I’m following this one pretty closely. As far as I am aware, there are no studies that prove that assertion.
    Coronaviruses are very well known. A new one typically has a two year life cycle before it becomes part of our virome. They are initially more lethal, always towards the more vulnerable, then they spread more widely and become fairly benign. That is exactly what is happening with this one.
    This vaccine is brand new. Its mid and long term effects are completely unknown. Its short term effects are not being widely disseminated. Numbers that have been published in the UK indicate that 20% of the vaccinated are infected with Delta. A reasonable cost/benefit analysis cannot be performed.


    1. The number comes from the Chronicle of Higher Education. I can’t provide a link because it’s protected. But you can go online and get a couple of articles for free.


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