Rutgers University Will Require All Students To Be COVID Vaccinated By Fall

by Christina Marfice
Yulia Reznikov/Getty

Rutgers is the first major university to announce it will require returning students to have proof of a COVID-19 vaccine. Will other universities do the same?

COVID-19 vaccine rollouts are continuing to pick up speed all over the country, with the Biden administration now aiming to have administered 200 million shots by the end of the president’s first 100 days in office. With that, the country is slowly beginning to reopen. It feels overly hopeful to think that the fall college semester might be back to normal, but if vaccines continue at this pace, it very well could be. And Rutgers University just became the first major school to announce that it plans to fully reopen its campus in the fall by requiring all students to show proof of their COVID vaccine.

Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway and other university executives released a statement on Thursday saying that New-Jersey-based Rutgers plans “to move toward a full return to our pre-pandemic normal as a vibrant institution in Fall 2021.”

“In support of Rutgers’ commitment to health and safety for all members of its community, the University will be updating its Immunization Requirements for Students to include the COVID-19 vaccine,” the statement reads. “This health policy update means that, with limited exceptions, all students planning to attend in the Fall 2021 semester must be fully vaccinated.”

It continues, “Proof of vaccination will be required for all students planning to attend this fall,” but does state that students can request a vaccine exemption from the school for medical or religious reasons. All vaccines that have been approved for emergency use in the U.S. (currently Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson) will meet Rutgers’ requirements.

Those who plan to take Rutgers University courses without being on campus, such as online learners, will be exempt from the policy, school officials said. The school already requires its students to show proof of vaccination against illnesses like measles, mumps, and rubella.

As of this week, there are five U.S. states (Alaska, Mississippi, West Virginia, Utah, and Georgia) that have opened up vaccine eligibility to anyone over the age of 16. President Biden has challenged all states to do so by May 1, which should allow for plenty of time for students to get their vaccines before the fall semester begins. So far, around 85 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Now, the biggest question is this: Will other universities follow Rutgers and require proof of vaccination for their students? We can only hope so.