WVU aims to reach 80% COVID-19 vaccination rate by Sept. 1

FILE - In this June 7, 2013, file photo, former Ohio State University president Gordon Gee gives his retirement speech during a board of trustees meeting in Columbus, Ohio. A viral ‘Little Sisters’ comment by Gee nearly eight years ago led to this week’s Top 25 marquee matchup between Ohio State and TCU. The Horned Frogs are now one of the Power Five teams in the Big 12. Gee is now West Virginia’s president and chairman of the Big 12 board of directors. And the Bowl Championship Series has since been replaced by the four-team College Football Playoff. When No. 15 TCU plays No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday night, Sept. 15, 2018, Gee may even have a different rooting interest. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia University is asking its students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated for the coronavirus as it tries to keep pace with the rest of the state.

The university will develop additional enforcement and safety protocols for unvaccinated individuals if WVU does not reach an 80% rate of full vaccinations for its employees and students by Sept. 1. Those measures include increased testing frequency and penalties for failure to comply with COVID-19 related requirements, WVU said Tuesday in a statement.

Vaccinations are not required but are strongly encouraged for WVU students and employees.

The statement said 59% of WVU faculty and staff and 60% of students on the Morgantown campus have verified they are fully vaccinated. WVU said 59% of its employees and 34% of students on the Beckley campus are fully vaccinated, compared to 28% of workers and 26% of students on the Keyser campus.

About 57% of state residents ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to health figures.

Students and employees who have verified they’ve been vaccinated will not be required to undergo COVID-19 testing at the semester’s start.

WVU previously announced plans to full open its campuses this fall.