More US Universities Require On-Campus Students To Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Over 1,000 public and private universities and colleges across the United States have made vaccination for on-campus students and employees mandatory due to an increase in the number of Coronavirus cases in the country, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education database.

Universities’ decisions to impose COVID-19 vaccine requirement, however, have aroused much debate and dissatisfaction among students, reports.

“The problem is [and] what makes this vaccination different than many others in the past is that it’s been politicised and been used as a bargaining tool and bribery in the state of New Jersey and the United States of America,” Sara Razi, a junior at Rutgers University, told Al Jazeera, pointing out that getting the shot or not is a personal decision.

Furthermore, Indiana University students have filed an emergency injunction against university imposing the vaccine mandate, sending it to the US Supreme Court, which case was dismissed on August 13. Similarly, earlier this year, students of Rutgers University announced protests against the university requiring them to get the COVID-19 vaccine, in order to be permitted to enter campus in the fall semester.

A few days later, after the Indiana University students filed an emergency injunction against the university, students at Rutgers University in New Jersey along with the non-profit organization Children’s Health Defense filed their own lawsuit against the university, for forcing students to get the COVID-19 vaccine to which they referred as “experimental.”

Nevertheless, Al Jazeera reports that there are also students who support the back-to-campus vaccine mandates, considering them as very important to keep the community safe, particularly amid the Delta variant surge.

“I personally don’t feel like it should be controversial in any way,” Princeton’s University student Alan Gutierrez told Al Jazeera, adding that he would be worried if Princeton would not enforce vaccine mandate.

On August 23, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, a decision that has pushed about 100 universities in the country to make vaccination for students and employees mandatory. Some of these universities include the University of Richmond, Central Michigan University, the University of Louisiana, and the University of Minnesota.

Several universities have been waiting for vaccines to be fully approved by the FDA before requiring their students and staff to be vaccinated, including the University of Minnesota. Due to the approval coming in late August, institutions say that students and staff might be less likely to receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before the fall semester.

Most recently, Ohio university has required its students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 15, highlighting that they should all, including those working from home, receive both doses of the two-shot vaccines. This requirement has excluded only students who are expected to pursue fully online programs.

Ohio University said that it recognizes Pfizer vaccine – two doses, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen – one dose, Moderna – two doses, as well as vaccines approved under a WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL).

Several US universities have already used incentive programs to convince their students to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including free tuition, gift certificates, or even a $7,000 award.

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