Colleges are currently grappling with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and re-opening, with outbreaks occurring even as vaccination rates increase. While many college students are only now becoming eligible for the vaccine, colleges are already weighing whether or not to make it mandatory for students.
A number of universities, including Cornell, have already announced that all students coming to the school for fall semester will need to be vaccinated for Covid-19. This has sparked debate from some, who wonder whether or not it’s legal for colleges to mandate the vaccine, and ask if it’s actually necessary for students to take it. While the Covid-19 vaccines have been found to be completely safe, some are still resisting mandatory vaccinations.
Can Colleges Require COVID Vaccines?
Whether or not a college can legally require a vaccine may end up coming down to which state they are in, and whether they are a public or private institution. In Florida, for instance, private and state entities have been banned from requiring people to show proof of vaccination, in a so-called “vaccine passport” ban. This may start a legal fight as at least one university, Nova Southern, has already announced vaccine requirements.
Other schools are not requiring vaccinations, but are incentivizing them. Dickinson University is exempting vaccinated students from their mask mandate, while it will remain in place for students and staff who have not received the vaccine.
Most schools have not yet announced an official policy on whether or not they will require vaccinations, but expect more to follow, now that the first few announcements have come. Also, expect legal fights between universities which wish to require vaccinations, and states which want to avoid such mandates, especially in Florida.
We recommend that students who are eager to attend or apply to college get the vaccine at their earliest convenience, as college visits, activities, and the school itself will all get back to normal much faster when everyone has been vaccinated. Stay safe out there!