RALEIGH — With many North Carolina colleges and universities returning to the classroom for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started, vaccination is a critical component to keep campuses open and students safe.
The state released a study last week that concluded unvaccinated people are more likely to become infected with COVID-19 and to be hospitalized or die due to complications related to respiratory disease.
Spread of the virus has accelerated over the last month due to the delta variant, a mutation of the coronavirus that’s more than three times as contagious as the original strain.
UNC System universities don’t require students to be vaccinated, but each campus is tracking how many students and employees are inoculated. Those who are not vaccinated or don’t provide proof of vaccination will be required to get tested for the virus at least once a week.
Here’s where some of the state’s universities stand in terms of vaccination rates on campus.
For UNCG residential students, 80% are fully vaccinated as of Wednesday. University officials said that the school is still gathering vaccination rates from students living off campus as well as faculty and staffers.
UNC-Chapel Hill reported that, as of Thursday, 90% of their students have attested to being vaccinated. The school is in Orange County, where the adult vaccination rate is 90%.
At N.C. State, 68% of students, 85% of faculty and 67% of staff members have said they’re vaccinated. The university is in Wake County, where the vaccine rate for adults is 74%.
At UNC-Charlotte, 71% of on-campus students and 78% of residential students are fully vaccinated. Among employees, 85% are fully vaccinated.
East Carolina University reported that 46% of on-campus students and 76% of employees are fully vaccinated as of Aug. 27.
At Appalachian State University, 51% of students and 88% of faculty and staffers are fully vaccinated as of Monday.
For UNC-Asheville, 64% of on-campus students and 90% of residential students are fully vaccinated. Among employees, the rate is 74% as of Tuesday. The school is in Buncombe County, where 70% of adults are vaccinated.
As of Tuesday, vaccination rates at UNC-Wilmington are 71% for residential students, 53% for students living off-campus and 85% for faculty and staffers.
Other UNC System schools — N.C. A&T, Fayetteville State University and Winston-Salem State University — do not publicize vaccine rates online and did not respond to emails from The News & Observer as of Thursday morning.
Some private schools require COVID-19 vaccines. For example, Duke University reported that 95% of students and 91% of employees are fully vaccinated. About 1% of students on campus are not vaccinated. The vast majority of students were vaccinated by Duke.
At Wake Forest University, about 97% of students are fully vaccinated and those not vaccinated have received medical or religious exemptions.
At Elon University, 96% of students have been vaccinated and 4% have been approved for an exemption. Those with an exemption are required to wear face masks indoors and be tested for COVID-19 weekly.