Unvaccinated at UK


Holly Fessel, a UK nursing student, administers a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, April 10, 2021, at UK’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Abbey Cutrer

COVID-19 on a college campus is a challenge, and students are reacting in different ways when it comes to vaccines and testing at UK. As of Jan. 17, 88.7% of the student population is vaccinated, leaving just over 11% unvaccinated.

According to university policy, unvaccinated UK students are required to get tested once a week. As a result, a queue of students waiting to be tested is a common sight at the COVID-19 clinic in the Gatton Student Center.

As students make the choice to get vaccinated, boosted and tested, there are many factors that go into the decision-making process. Some individuals, for varying reasons, have decided to not receive a vaccine; they must make the weekly pilgrimage to a testing site or face repercussions from not complying with UK policies.

After the first instance of non-compliance, the student receives a hold on their account, which prevents them from registering for classes.

The second time, the student will be prevented from entering athletic events in the future.

The third and fourth levels of noncompliance include a conduct meeting with additional disciplinary holds and can result in suspension. More information is found on the UK noncompliance page.

Freshman Addie Tennill is part of the unvaccinated student body, but she said that might change soon.

“I hate COVID. I’m not vaccinated, but I’m probably going to get vaccinated soon. My mom is literally nuts, and she would get mad at me if I did,” she said.

Tennill said she recently recovered from the virus, but some symptoms have stuck around.

“I literally just had COVID; I’m fine now, but it was pretty bad,” she said. “I don’t have my taste or smell right now.”

Freshman Elizabeth Bruggensmith, aware of the contagiousness and severity of COVID, is also unvaccinated but for different reasons.

“I’m not vaccinated, but I plan on it once the science gets to a point where it’s not constantly changing,” Bruggensmith said.

Shee also shared her feelings on the university’s communication about COVID.

“They make us get tested every week, so we get a lot of emails and text message spams as reminders,” she said. “We get fined if we don’t get tested weekly since we aren’t vaccinated.”

UK administrators send an email to every student on campus at the end of every week to give updates on the pandemic and how it is affecting UK’s campus. Sophomore Jennifer Bryant expanded on the communication from the university.

“They’re communicating very well; even my family is like, ‘Other schools aren’t doing as much as they’re doing. They give out masks and take a lot of precautions,’” Bryant said.

UK has also implemented an incentive program for students who have been vaccinated. The incentives include thousands of dollars in scholarships, gift cards, tickets and experiences.

These incentives encourage vaccines, and the weekly email updates provide information about vaccine appointments as well as testing details.

The university has five different vaccine clinics on campus, and the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all offered at the Gatton Student Center. Despite UK’s efforts, the booster percentages on campus are still uncertain, and although the majority of the campus community is vaccinated, there are still students who are not.