College and COVID: Information on Mandatory Vaccinations


Cassidy Kleinwaks

Last fall, colleges all over the country had to make numerous changes to try and keep students safe and minimize the spread of the virus. Understandably, this was not an easy task for many larger schools. Some schools chose to deal with the ongoing situation by closing campus and having students attend classes virtually from home, while others allowed for the return of students with classes also online. Colleges faced a significant impact and had to make thoughtful decisions, which left an impact on students as well. 

Virtual schooling, a new way of learning, required students to face and overcome challenges all year. Other student activities such as college sports and clubs were also majorly affected by the pandemic. With the COVID cases in the United States decreasing, 65% of colleges have expressed plans to re-open in-person classes in the Fall (Hess). It is likely that classroom density will decrease, masks will be mandatory, and many of the familiar COVID-19 safety and prevention practices will be implemented this upcoming year. 

While these changes do help, many colleges are facing the decision of whether or not to require mandatory COVID vaccinations prior to the return of in-person classes for further prevention of on-campus spreading. Rutgers University’s New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark campuses were the first to announce that all students planning to attend campus next fall must be fully vaccinated. The response to the college’s choice has varied — some believe that any and all measures should be taken in order to return colleges to the way they were before COVID and allow students to have normal college experiences. Others have argued that the vaccine mandate rids them of their rights. There have been two lawsuits already regarding the mandate in argument that their employers “cannot mandate vaccines authorized through the EUA process” (Redden). 

The EUA or Emergency Use Authorization is the facilitation of medical products, such as the COVID vaccine, during public health emergencies. Under the EUA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may allow the use of unapproved medical products ( While many seem to disfavor the decision made by Rutgers, requiring their students to get vaccinated with one of the three available vaccines ‒Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, and Moderna‒ many colleges have decided to follow suit, and the number of institutions deciding to do so has increased daily. Duke University, The University of Notre Dame, Brown, Cornell, Northeastern University, and Rutgers are just a few from the growing list of colleges that have already decided to mandate the covid vaccine. 

While many schools have yet to require student vaccination, some have spoken out about other changes being implemented this fall semester as well as currently. On March 4th, 2021, The University of Michigan deactivated the ID cards of undergraduates that failed to comply with the college’s covid-testing policy. On April 12th, Northeastern University held a vaccine clinic for students to get vaccinated. Starting in April, Saint Joseph’s College in Maine began issuing out tickets for those caught failing to wear a mask on campus. The tickets charge $50 (Scott Jaschik).

The COVID-19 cases at a college depend on a variety of factors such as location, amount of students on campus, and ultimately the policies put into effect by the college. Whether or not colleges will require students to get vaccinated will likely be affected by these factors. Some issues that might come from the vaccine mandate are the forging of vaccination passports, students having difficulty accessing vaccines, and colleges having to decide whether they can exempt certain students from the mandate. It is still uncertain what the consequences for failing to comply with the mandate will be.