In what may be a first for higher education institutions in the country, Rutgers University in New Jersey announced that it will require all on-campus students to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend the fall 2021 semester.
The school is also urging faculty and staff to be vaccinated as early as possible. In February, President Joe Biden announced that the US had procured sufficient COVID-19 vaccines for all Americans. Rutgers said assurances by the federal government that there would be vaccines for all adults by May had prompted the school to make this decision.
“We are committed to health and safety for all members of our community, and adding COVID-19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will help provide a safer and more robust college experience for our students,” Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway wrote.
The rule will not apply to students enrolled in fully remote programs. Also, students may request an exemption for medical or religious reasons.
‘A Shared Responsibility’
The safety of the Rutgers community is “a shared responsibility,” one that requires the cooperation of “more than 71,000 students, the cities we are in and the communities we serve throughout New Jersey,” said Antonio Calcado, the university’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Rutgers already requires new or transferring students to comply with the immunization requirements of the state and the university by showing proof of vaccination for measles, mumps, rubella, influenza, and meningitis.
To satisfy the new rule, Rutgers students can receive any of the three vaccines that are authorized for use in the US. The university advised incoming students under the age of 18 to receive the Pfizer vaccine, the only vaccine in the country that can be administered to 16- and 17-year olds.
The university also said it is working to establish a vaccine clinic on campus for faculty, staff, and students. Till then, students are directed to get the vaccine through the state or other publicly available methods.