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Should colleges require the COVID-19 vaccine for students?

Colleges weigh what should happen to students when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine

A lawn sign encourages wearing a mask as students move into dormitories at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.
A lawn sign encourages wearing a mask as students move into dormitories at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. Colleges across the United States are trying to decide whether or not students should be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine before they return to campus, according to The Associated Press.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Colleges across the United States are trying to decide whether or not students should be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine before they return to campus, according to The Associated Press.

  • In fact, colleges are even considering whether or not they can legally require students to get vaccinated before they return to school.
  • “The question looms large as more colleges plan to shift back from remote to in-person instruction. Many schools have launched vaccination blitzes to get students immunized before they leave for the summer. At some schools, the added requirement is meant to encourage holdouts and to build confidence that students and faculty will be safe on campus,” according to The Associated Press.

Which colleges will require vaccines?

There’s an interesting breakdown of how schools are navigating this field. For example, Rutgers, Brown, Cornell and Northeastern told students they need to get vaccinated, per AP.

But Virginia Tech told students that they can’t legally require the vaccine “because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only allowed the emergency use of the vaccines and hasn’t given them its full approval,” according to the AP.

Why colleges need vaccinations

According to NPR, the majority of colleges will likely require students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they come back to campus. The colleges hope that the vaccinations will help bring some level of herd immunity to campuses, which will make it safer for all since vaccines are not a perfect firewall against the COVID-19 virus.

  • “Vaccinations are an important tool for making the fall semester safe,” Antonio Calcado, the head of Rutgers’ COVID-19 task force, told NPR. “We felt that just simply encouraging would not have the same effect as a requirement.”

Dr. Danny Avula, the Virginia vaccine coordinator, told WSLS-TV that vaccines should be a priority because the virus could spread on campus quickly.

  • “It’s really the reality that college students are drivers of transmission,” Avula said. “And so when you look at that young adult population because of their behaviors, their adherence to mitigation factors. They are spreaders of disease.”

Do colleges require vaccines now?

Colleges have required vaccines for awhile. For example, the MMR vaccine — which protects against measles, mumps and rubella — is required at almost 87.5% of colleges in the U.S., according to NPR.

  • “This is not new,” Calcado told NPR. “We have a whole portal for uploading your vaccine history and all those types of things. So that’s already in place. And actually, this one just adds another vaccine to what’s in place today.”