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UK announces mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for all unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff

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Posted at 3:30 PM, Aug 26, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The choice is simple for students and faculty members at the University of Kentucky: get vaccinated or get tested.

"You don't have to vaccinate, but if you don't, you'll have to test every week," said UK's Communications Director, Jay Blanton.

Blanton admitted that the school hopes this minor inconvenience motivates the remaining 25 percent of people on this campus who haven't received one or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"President (Eli) Capilouto has made clear we have not taken the idea of mandatory vaccinations off the table," said Blanton. "But we think that incentives, the testing requirement for our campus at this time, we think that's the best way to encourage people to move forward with vaccinations."

Blanton noted that in addition to the student incentive program, faculty members could also get rewards.

"…that'll include extra vacation time, maybe extra pay and athletic events tickets," he said of the possible incentives, which are still to be determined.

The University hopes to get 80% of its population vaccinated, so they are right on the goal line now with 75%. The hope is mandatory testing will encourage enough people to rethink their stance on the vaccine. And the students we spoke with who haven't yet been vaccinated are ready to cooperate.

"I get it. They just want to make sure everyone is safe," said freshman Jacob Overbee, who is waiting until he turns 18 to get the shots.

"It's about public security, and we're attending their facilities, so I think they have that right," said another freshman, Faisal Alabbasi.

So far, Faisal has only received one dose, so he got the text message that weekly testing will be required until he's fully protected.

The mandate goes into place on Wednesday, September 1.