Int’l Students Returning to US to Face Confusion Due to Contradictory Vaccine Policies

International students returning or coming to the US for their studies are expected to face confusion due to vaccine policies imposed by different countries, reports.

After over a year of full pandemic and lockdowns, 90 percent of US universities and colleges are planning to return international students to their classes, with consulates ramping up their visa process.

According to the database maintained by the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than 500 colleges across the US require vaccines for students and employees, mostly FDA-authorized vaccines such as Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, which aren’t always available to international students’ home countries.

On the other hand, the World Health Organisation has approved only eight vaccines, including the FDA authorized options, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, and Sinovac. Some students have already received their vaccine shots, which are FDA approved, so they must get vaccinated again in the US.

Many colleges are scheduling vaccination appointments on campus for all students that couldn’t receive their vaccine shots in their home countries, and others universities noted that they’ll assist international students in getting their shot after their arrival.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) data reveals that about 1.1 million international students attended college in the US throughout the 2019-2020 academic year. Another 43 percent of schools also reported an increase in international students’ applications for the same year.

“Universities are prepping for a strong recovery in international education enrollment as they emerge from the pandemic. We anticipate the recovery to come in phases, tied to vaccinations and travel guidelines,” said Mirka Martel, who is the head of research, evaluation, and learning at IIE.

IIE also noted that while vaccination rates in the United States are on the rise, institutions will still continue to deal with “variable vaccination rates worldwide,” especially with the recent outbreaks in India, Latin America, and South Africa.

IIE’s President, Allan Goodman, believes that vaccine diplomacy could be an essential mission that colleges and universities intend to fulfill this fall.

“We could vaccinate every incoming international student. For many students coming here, it might get them a vaccination years before they might be eligible in their home country,” Goodman said.

According to a QS survey conducted in May 2021, 68 percent of prospective international students would get vaccinated if the shot was offered to them, whereas 41 percent of students said they would take the vaccine if the university required it.

More than 100 American universities and colleges impose COVID-19 vaccine requirements for their students in order to return to campuses in the fall and begin a typical academic year.

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