Are colleges requiring students to get vaccinated?

June 8, 2021
By AdmissionSight

Universities Requiring Students to Get COVID-19 Vaccine: Everything You Need to Know

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the everyday functionings of colleges across the country. In-person classes were canceled, the online school became the norm, extracurriculars were scrapped, and campuses became quiet.

Over the past few months, things have gradually started to return to normal. And with effective vaccines in full distribution, many are eyeing a potential return to normal. However, this has also raised the question about vaccine requirements, leading many students and parents to wonder “are colleges requiring students to get vaccinated?”

A syringe and vial held by a hand wearing gloves.

Yes, there is a growing number of colleges that have decided to require returning students to receive the vaccine in order to ensure all students and faculty members are safe. Understandably many students and parents have had questions about this requirement.

What schools have the requirement? Is it legal? Are there any exceptions? How many students will end up getting the vaccine? It’s a relatively new development, but AdmissionSight has the latest on these changes. Here, we’ll take a deeper dive into these requirements and cover everything you need to know about colleges requiring COVID-19 vaccines.

How many students support the vaccination requirements?

College Pulse conducted a survey to determine the level of support the recent vaccine requirements had among students. 1,000 college students participated in the survey and a whopping 71% said they believe universities maintain the right to implement a vaccine requirement for students before they’re allowed to return to campus. 10% of the respondents were on the fence, and 19% said they didn’t support these requirements.

a nurse vaccinating a student.

Anne Schwictenber, College Pulse’s director of research, reports that the survey illustrates an eagerness among students to return to normal college life. Still, there are clearly still some reservations some students have about the efficacy of the vaccine.

However, another survey found that more students are supportive of requiring vaccines than other strategies used to mitigate the spread of the virus such as stay-at-home orders or mask mandates.

ACHA’s push for colleges to require vaccinations

There’s been a whirlwind of news reports over the past month as more and more colleges decide to require returning students to get immunized against COVID-19. But where did all of this start? Well, in late April, the American College Health Association (ACHA) formalized its recommendation for universities across the country to require vaccinations for students.

Here’s the ACHA’s official statement:

“The American College Health Association (ACHA) recognizes that comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination is the most effective way for institutions of higher education (IHEs) to return to a safe, robust on-campus experience for students in fall semester 2021.

Therefore, where state law and available resources allow, ACHA recommends COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all on-campus college and university students for fall semester 2021, in accordance with the IHE’s normal exemption practices, including exemptions for medical contraindications. This recommendation applies to all students who live on campus and/or participate in on-campus classes, studies, research, or activities.”

You can read the full report here.

What colleges are requiring students to get a vaccine?

There are over 100 universities and colleges currently requiring returning students to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

CALIFORNIA

California Institute of Technology

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

California State University system

Claremont McKenna College

Dominican University of California

Harvey Mudd College

Humboldt State University

Loyola Marymount University

Menlo College

Occidental College

Pitzer College

Pomona College

Samuel Merritt University

San Diego State University

San Francisco State University

San Jose State University

Santa Clara University

Scripps College

Sonoma State University

Southwestern College

Stanford University

University of California system

University of San Diego

University of Southern California

COLORADO

Colorado College

Colorado State University system

Fort Lewis College

Metropolitan State University of Denver

University of Colorado system

University of Denver

University of Northern Colorado

CONNECTICUT

Wesleyan University

Yale University

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

American University

Bay Atlantic University

George Washington University

Georgetown University

Trinity Washington University

FLORIDA

Nova Southeastern University

GEORGIA

Clark Atlanta University

Emory University

Morehouse College

Spelman College

ILLINOIS

Columbia College Chicago

DePaul University

Loyola University Chicago

Roosevelt University

INDIANA

DePauw University

Holy Cross College

Saint Mary’s College

University of Notre Dame

Valparaiso University

IOWA

Grinnell College

KENTUCKY

Berea College

MAINE

Bowdoin College

College of the Atlantic

MARYLAND

Johns Hopkins University

Morgan State University

University System of Maryland

MASSACHUSETTS

Amherst College

Assumption University

Boston College

Boston University

Brandeis University

College of the Holy Cross

Emerson College

Hampshire College

Lasell University

Massachusetts State University system

Mount Holyoke College

Northeastern University

Simmons University

Smith College

Suffolk University

Tufts University

University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Boston

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Williams College

MICHIGAN

Lawrence Technological University

Oakland University

University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

MINNESOTA

Carleton College

Macalester College

MISSOURI

Washington University in St. Louis

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Dartmouth College

Southern New Hampshire University

NEW JERSEY

Drew University

Fairleigh Dickinson University

Kean University

Montclair State University

New Jersey City University

Princeton University

Rider University

Rutgers University

Stevens Institute of Technology

NEW YORK

Barnard College

Columbia University

Cornell University

Fordham University

Hamilton College

Ithaca College

Le Moyne College

Manhattanville College

New York University

Pace University

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Sarah Lawrence College

School of Visual Arts

St. John’s University

Syracuse University

The New School

University of Rochester

Vassar College

NORTH CAROLINA

Brevard College

Duke University

Wake Forest University

OHIO

Cleveland State University

Kenyon College

OREGON

Lewis & Clark College

University of Portland

Willamette University

PENNSYLVANIA

Bryn Mawr College

Drexel University

Haverford College

Lehigh University

University of Pennsylvania

University of the Sciences

RHODE ISLAND

Brown University

Roger Williams University

SOUTH CAROLINA

Wofford College

TENNESSEE

Maryville College

TEXAS

Paul Quinn College

St. Edward’s University

VERMONT

Bennington College

VIRGINIA

Hampton University

Mary Baldwin University

Virginia Wesleyan University

WASHINGTON

DigiPen Institute of Technology

Pacific Lutheran University

Seattle Film Institute

Seattle University

University of Puget Sound

University of Washington system

Washington State University system

Whitman College

WISCONSIN

Lawrence University

What legal professionals are saying about it

One of the first questions many students and parents have about these requirements is “can colleges require students to get vaccinated? Well, that’s a tricky question but not one without legal precedent. When speaking with NPR, Doris Reiss – a UC Hasting College of the Law professor – stated that “Most universities have the power to require vaccines.

But it does depend on what the college can do generally on vaccines and what they’ve done in the past.” Universities have to deal with federal, state, and local laws when making these requirements.

As a result, public universities have a tougher time than private ones.

In an interview with CNBC, attorney Renee Mattei Myers struck a more decisive tone by stating that colleges are allowed to require vaccines according to guidance from the Department of Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

She reported that “The EEOC’s guidance that came out in December made it clear and paved the way to say that employers can mandate vaccines and that this isn’t considered a medical examination, which is prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

The legal precedent behind this requirement

One of the most commonly heard and easily understood arguments for these COVID-19 vaccine requirements is the fact that colleges have mandated that students receive vaccines for over a century.

The ACHA has pointed out that many universities require inoculations against varicella, rubella, mumps, measles, and a variety of other diseases that are avoidable with relevant vaccinations. The ACHA compares the COVID-19 illness with some of these “vaccine-preventable” diseases, essentially saying that the requirement is similar to what’s been done in the past.

Legal challenges have even arisen in the past surrounding some of these vaccine requirements. For example, the University of California was sued in 1925 by a student who claimed he had met the university’s requirements except for the smallpox vaccination. The presiding judge ended up ruling in favor of the university, further solidifying the mandate. A similar legal challenge was brought forth regarding school children in 2015 which was also ruled in favor of the requirements. Reiss said that she expects legal challenges to arise surrounding these recent COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provided guidance in December that said there were no current laws that would keep employers from being able to require vaccines or from requiring proof of vaccination.

Are there any exceptions to the vaccine requirement?

Although it varies between colleges, there are some common exceptions to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Two of the most common causes for exemption are religious and medical reasons.

Extracting from vial of vaccine.

Many universities recognize that there are some extenuating circumstances that would make it harder for students to adhere to the mandate. In these instances, many colleges have outlined alternative options. Some of these involve online classes while others involve regular testing on-campus

FAQs regarding vaccine requirements

Are all colleges requiring students to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently, there are around 100 colleges and universities – both public and private – requiring students to get the vaccine. Although more and more are announcing these requirements each week, there’s no reason to believe that all colleges will end up making this same requirement. However, it’s imperative that college students check with their current university or one in which they plan to attend to see what their requirements are.

Is it legal for colleges to require students to receive a vaccine?

There’s a long history of colleges requiring students to receive vaccines in order to attend. The primary difference this time around is how new the COVID-19 vaccines are compared to others that are regularly required. The vaccines have only received Emergency Use Approval (EUA) by the FDA so far. However, many legal analysts think that it’s within the rights of universities to mandate this as a requirement for attending in-person classes.

Student being vaccinated by a nurse.

What happens if I don’t get the vaccine?

As many of these requirements are new, some colleges are still working out the specifics of what happens when students don’t want to receive the vaccine. Some have talked about continuing to offer online classes for these students so they don’t end up falling behind in their education.

Others have even discussed the possibility of allowing these students on campus but requiring them to take regular COVID-19 tests. Exact details will vary between universities and all of the specific questions should be routed to your college.

Your resource for all things college admission related

AdmissionSight has been helping demystify the college admissions process for over a decade. We’ve helped countless students just like you perfect their applications and get into the school of their dreams. In fact, 75% of our students end up getting accepted into an Ivy League or Top 10 university.

How do we do it? We’ve mastered the college admissions process for some of the country’s best colleges and universities and developed a deep understanding of what admissions officers are looking for in applicants.

All of our services are catered to helping students prime their applications to increase their chances of getting into their school of choice.

Academic Guidance: The classes you choose in high school play a major role in determining whether or not you get accepted into college. We’ll help you choose the best courses given your academic interests, strengths, and goals.

Extracurricular Planning: Although academics are vital in the admissions process, they’re not everything. Admissions officers are also interested in what you’re doing outside of school to develop your skills. We’ll guide you in choosing extracurriculars that you enjoy and that will help your application stand out.

Summer Program Selection: One of the best ways to spend your summer break is to participate in a prestigious summer program. We’ll help you choose a program that aligns with your field of interest while increasing your chances of getting noticed in the admissions process.

Pre-High School Consultation: For parents who want to get a headstart in preparing their student for college, we offer pre-high school counseling where we’ll outline an entire high school plan to drastically increase your child’s chances of getting into the college of their dreams when the time rolls around.

All of our services are completely individualized to each student, taking into consideration their academic strengths, interests, and long-term goals. Feel free to contact AdmissionSight to learn more about what we offer and how you can benefit from them. We offer a free consultation where you can get all of your questions answered. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you achieve your educational goals.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.