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Wharton first-year Drishti Devnani receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Penn's Gimbel Gymnasium vaccination site on April 21, 2021. Credit: Chase Sutton

Penn announced on Tuesday that 99% of undergraduate students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The University also reported that 97% of faculty and staff and 96% of all students, both graduate and undergraduate, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All students, faculty, and staff, are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they apply and are granted an exemption for health or religious reasons. The update to the vaccination rate — which sat at 97% among faculty and undergraduates as of Sept. 14 — comes as the COVID-19 positivity rate across the University has remained under 0.50% for the fourth straight week. 

A total of 36 Penn community members — four of whom are undergraduate students — tested positive for COVID-19 between Oct. 3 and Oct. 9, out of 11,150 community members who were tested. Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé said he attributes the low case count and lack of transmission in classrooms, labs, and workspaces to the high vaccination rate, as well as continued adherence to the University's mask wearing policy in indoor spaces.

"The vaccination rate shows how seriously students are taking [the vaccine requirement], and they are doing what they are supposed to do," Dubé said. "Everyone wants to see the pandemic end, so people are doing their part to make that a reality."

Penn's vaccination rate is comparable to other Ivy League universities. Columbia University, Yale University, Cornell University, Princeton University, and Brown University all have reported undergraduate COVID-19 vaccination rates at or above 99%. Harvard University's 96% vaccination rate and Dartmouth College's community-wide 92% vaccination rate come in just below.

While Dubé and Director of Campus Health Ashlee Halbritter are excited by the high vaccination rate and compliance from students, they said students must still adhere to Penn's biweekly COVID-19 testing policy. The majority of students, however, are not following the guidelines. 

Every two weeks, the University pulls testing data for all students from the previous 14-day period, Halbritter explained. All students who have not received at least one COVID-19 test in that period automatically receive a red PennOpen Pass for noncompliance. Students are able to reverse the red PennOpen Pass by getting tested, but not until the next day, after a negative result is attained, Halbritter explained.

Halbritter said that if Penn were to have pulled data on Oct. 12 for the current testing period, over 11,000 students would have received red PennOpen Passes.

"Obviously, this number is better, but we just want to remind students to keep getting tested and doing their part to keep the campus safe," she said. 

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