One plan for American higher ed this fall: how many campuses are requiring vaccines?


As spring term proceeds, colleges and universities are planning for this upcoming fall semester.

There is a lot going on in this complex process, especially as pandemic conditions change. I have posted about one scenario already, plus a glimpse of all of 2021 from way back in 2020, and there are more posts to come. Today I just wanted to focus on one particular detail, and I’ll phrase it as a question:

How many colleges and universities will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students, faculty, and staff to return to campus?

Such a requirement makes sense on the face of it.  The leading vaccines do a great job of blocking COVID spread. There are growing stocks of vaccines, multiple brands of the stuff, and also a burgeoning system of vaccination sites across the nation.  If a college or university wants to return to in-person education, mandating vaccines feels like an intuitive choice.

Some institutions are already doing so.  Here’s my current list of campuses requiring vaccinations:

  1. American University
  2. Boston University
  3. Brown University
  4. Cleveland State University
  5. Cornell University
  6. Dartmouth College
  7. Duke University
  8. Fort Lewis College
  9. Georgetown University
  10. Grinnell College
  11. Harvey Mudd College
  12. Ithaca College (“the college plans to require all students who are attending this fall to be vaccinated”)
  13. Lasell University
  14. Manhattanville College
  15. Northeastern University
  16. Nova Southeastern University
  17. Oakland University
  18. Paul Quinn College
  19. Roger Williams University
  20. Rutgers University
  21. St. Edward’s University
  22. Syracuse University (starting in summer, not fall)
  23. University of Notre Dame
  24. Wesleyan University

Are there others? I can keep a list if it’s useful.

coronavirus_Nova Southern_Razor-getting-Vaccinated

That’s Nova Southeastern University’s Razor being a big baby.

Why wouldn’t a campus require vaccines?  For example, a group of Idaho colleges and universities decided not to.

One reason is if leadership thinks it’s redundant. The SUNY system Chancellor Jim Malatras stated that those 64 institutions will not require vaccination, because people will do it on their own:

“The way we’re approaching this is it’s going to be voluntary. As we’ve been opening up and getting more folks eligible, we’ve been pushing very hard to get all of our faculty, our staff, and our students eligible vaccinated. People are getting vaccinated. They don’t need to be mandated. They’re doing it because they want to turn the page on COVID…”

Another reason is that states might prohibit this from taking place.  Texas just did this for any institution taking state money, like public universities:

A third reason to avoid mandating jabs is that it’s harder to require medicines that are only FDA approved for emergency purposes.

Meanwhile, many colleges and universities are apparently thinking about it.  Here’s a sample of “ask us later” institutions in the Boston area.  So is UNC-Charlotte, it seems.

I have some other questions, like: will these campuses enforce perimeter checks? What will they accept as proof of vaccination (the card, or a physical copy thereof, or a photo)?  How many people opposed to public health measures will claim a religious exception?  Will some campuses mandate vaccination for students, but not faculty or staff?

More to come. As ever, happy to hear your thoughts in comments below.

(thanks to Benjy Renton, Andy Thomason, Erik Simpson, Robert McGuire, and Todd Bryant for some fine links)

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4 Responses to One plan for American higher ed this fall: how many campuses are requiring vaccines?

  1. Melanie Hoag says:

    Texas currently has vaccination requirement for bacterial meningitis: [updated 2019 & options for exceptions are available]

    “All entering students at an institution of higher education are required to show proof of an initial meningococcal vaccination or a booster dose during the five-year period prior to enrolling. They must get the vaccine at least 10 days before the semester begins.” []

    The COVID-19 vaccine could easily be added to the current requirement. The “conversations” about COVID-19 vaccines stem from politicizing health and safety practices and recommendations.

  2. Joe Murphy says:

    CNN says the number is up to 14 as of yesterday – looks like you’re missing Syracuse and Ithaca. (I wonder if there’s geographic cooperation going on there). Also Roger Williams… and either I’m missing one, or the story is.

    Yes, a list might be useful.

  3. Roxann says:

    This could possibly be new type of vaccination ID system designed for vaccination compliance or be integrated with the current system? It would seem optimal to have all university/college communities with at least the highest level possible of protection. Melanie mentions above, there are already mandatory vaccinations for college students.* * not faculty or staff. I have only seen one university requiring staff/faculty to be vaccinated- you mention this in your article- Syracuse University .
    A vaccination portal might be an accessible way for everyone to enter their information and then have the health services and HR or whatever dept. is tasked with checking the status/compliance (HIPPA).
    Additionally, if/when a booster shot is needed- and it seems this will be the case maybe in the fall, or sooner for J & J, it will be an easier way to manage lots of moving data.

    • Roxann Riskin says:

      A few more thoughts-
      The current vaccination card I received, is a hand written card with the information. I believe the pharmacy has my information but I have no access to this data. There needs to be a new system that can allow for individuals to access digitized medical data for the primary reason if I lost my vaccination card how difficult would it be to get a copy of this?
      In addition, there is no digital footprint -ID on my card to identify me- like a driver’s license. The system seems to be an antiquated 1960’s or earlier model of handing someone a handwritten card. In the digital world we mostly live in, this is neither efficient or safe.
      I’m seeing so many potential issues that could arise here…

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