Why aren’t unvaccinated students living off campus, or unvaccinated employees, required to test regularly?

Unvaccinated students who live off campus and unvaccinated employees pose a very low risk to those in the community who are vaccinated. Because our vaccination rates are very high as well as the rates in Dane County, the unvaccinated population will benefit in many ways from the protection of a highly vaccinated community.

Though unvaccinated students who live off campus and unvaccinated employees are not required to test, they are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. Vaccination against COVID-19 has contributed to reduced virus transmission, fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths in the United States. As of June 2021, data suggests the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are now occurring among unvaccinated people. While the vaccinated population has the highest level of protection and are not at any increased risk while functioning in a society or in close proximity to unvaccinated people, those that are unvaccinated are still at risk when they are around other unvaccinated people.

UW–Madison is offering convenient, no-cost vaccination for all employees and students, including students living off campus. Again, vaccination rates in Dane County and on campus are high, but since unvaccinated people remain at elevated risk of coming down with and transmitting COVID-19 while around others who are unvaccinated, UW–Madison encourages all unvaccinated people to continue following best public health guidance, which includes wearing a mask, physical distancing where possible and testing for COVID-19 when they have symptoms or concerns until they are fully vaccinated (two weeks following a one-shot, or the second of a two-shot vaccine).

Unvaccinated students living in congregate settings on campus are required to test as a condition of their contracts, given the increased risks associated with being unvaccinated in congregate living settings. This allows UW–Madison to isolate students who test positive and help limit the spread of COVID-19 in on-campus housing among unvaccinated students. If you are vaccinated off campus, please share your vaccination status through the secure MyUHS portal, or grant UHS access to their vaccination record, to help do your part to create a safe and welcoming environment. Learn how to share your vaccine record with UHS.