California’s two biggest University School Systems announced Friday that every student, faculty and staff member needs to be vaccinated. The new COVID-19 measure applies to both the University of California system and the California State University System. Some universities in other states are still hesitant to require COVID-19 vaccinations for college students.
John Hermitt: "I was happy, I was already wanting to get vaccinated, I have no problems with getting vaccinated."
For these Rutgers University students, any chance at normalcy would be a real shot in the arm.
Caitlin Snee: "Have more students come back be in person and like, hopefully, like, get a real college experience." Antonio Calcado: "We feel vaccine is the is the game changer for us to bring back as many people as we can."
School officials like Antonio Calcado say mandating that all students be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to campus in the fall is the best and safest way to bring students back.
Calcado: "They deserve to have the experience that they've been looking forward to. We think that this is a small price to pay them to do it."
Rutgers was one of the first but they are not alone. Nearly 75 other universities, including Duke, Georgetown, Brown, Cornell, Notre Dame and Syracuse are requiring that students get vaccinated.
Calcado: "Students will be required to upload their vaccination cards."
Calcado compares the policy to proof for other vaccines, such as measles and mumps, required in public and private schools across the country.
Calcado: "We already require and mandate a number of different vaccines. So we have a policy in place." Similar to other vaccines, exemptions for medical and religious beliefs can be requested.
Dorit Reiss: "Vaccine mandates in education go back a long time and traditionally have been upheld by court, because they increase safety in areas that's vulnerable to outbreaks."
Despite that history, other schools are taking a different approach. The University of Colorado at Boulder says it is not requiring vaccines at this time because they are being administered under the FDA’s emergency use authorization or EUA but is strongly encouraging students to get them
Reiss: "There's a legal question, can you mandate the vaccine under an EUA, and the law isn't clear on that." State policies may also impact a school’s decision.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning businesses from asking to see proof of a COVID-19 vaccine, one day after NOVA Southeastern University announced it would require vaccinations. The school says it is not reviewing the order.
Then there are schools, like Ohio State, which are avoiding mandates altogether, instead saying everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as they are able to do so. The vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective. Many schools have yet to announce a vaccine policy. Perhaps an indication of just how complicated the issue is… as students remain hopeful for a return to campus normalcy.
MOS: "It gives me hope that things will be more normal than they are now."
John Hermitt: "I'm just happy to get back and I'll be able to see my friends again."
Walking alone through a still deserted Rutgers campus, Calcado has no regrets over their decision.
Calcado: "The fun component component is literally pulled out of it."
Bianna Golodryga: "And your view is the key to getting back to fun is through vaccine?" Calcado: "It is."
Friday’s recommendation that the Johnson and Johnson single dose vaccine can return to the market will help the effort to get more college students vaccinated. While more than half of adult Americans have received at least one shot, the number of vaccinations among college students is much lower than the general population.
Reporting from CNN.