It is among the first U.S. universities to serve such a term as schools begin to prepare for a return to campus life after a year of distance or hybrid learning due to the pandemic.
“In support of Rutgers’ commitment to health and safety for all members of its community, the University will update its student immunization requirements to include the COVID- vaccine 19, ”Rutgers management wrote in a message to the college community Thursday.
“This health policy update means that, with a few exceptions, all students planning to attend the 2021 fall semester must be fully immunized.
Students can apply for an exemption for medical or religious reasons, the university said. Otherwise, proof of vaccination will be required for all students attending classes in person.
Hoping for a “sense of normalcy on campus”
Arielle Dublin, vice-president of the Students’ Assembly at Rutgers University, said she supports the school’s decision.
Dublin, a fourth-year student, served on the university’s ‘restart committee’, made up of faculty, administrators and students, which made suggestions to Antonio Calcado, executive vice president and head of the university. operation of Rutgers.
“I think at the end of the day the goal is to bring students back and have a sense of normalcy on campus,” Dublin told CNN. “And to really have that sense of normalcy on campus, you have to recognize that we have to take care of our bodies and make sure everyone around us is okay too. ”
Is requiring the vaccine legal?
Universities, like some employees, may require vaccinations, and the Covid-19 vaccine is really no exception, said Renee Mattei Myers, a lawyer in Pennsylvania.
“They can mandate it, but they have to have processes in place for exceptions,” Myers said, for example, for medical and religious reasons.
Some experts say this remains a gray area – the United States Food and Drug Administration has issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the three vaccines currently in use in the United States. But that doesn’t mean formal approval.
“From what we know about vaccines at this point, it’s a very favorable proposition to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Howard Forman, director and founder of the MD / MBA program at the Yale School of Medicine. “But, in accordance with the principles of biomedical ethics, you really want to be able to protect the individual choice as much as possible in this matter. ”
In its advice on which products have emergency use authorization, the United States Food and Drug Administration states that recipients should be informed that they “have the option of accepting or rejecting the EUA product and of any consequence of the refusal of the administration of the product ”.
Whether vaccines with EUA can be warranted “has never been tested in the courts, and there are very strong legal arguments against this view” that they are experimental and should not be warranted, University of California, wrote last month.
“At this point, while there is still legal uncertainty, my opinion is that the balance of factors supports the ability of employers (or states) to demand EUA vaccines,” Reiss wrote. “Courts vary, but my current assessment is that most courts would be inclined to uphold an employer mandate for an EUA COVID-19 vaccine. ”
Poll: Many students agree colleges have the right to require a vaccine
Students overwhelmingly believe universities and colleges have the right to mandate vaccination, according to a survey by College Pulse, a research company that focuses on colleges and universities, released in January. In a survey of 1,000 students, 71% said that “colleges have the right to require that students be vaccinated before returning to campus.”
For Nicholas F. LaBelle, president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly, the university’s mandate “is the right decision.”
“We look forward to working not only with the administration of the University to achieve this goal, but also to ensure that vaccine distribution is equitable, efficient and set an example for peer institutions,” LaBelle said in a statement. .
“Through shared vigilance and unity, Rutgers will return as a beloved community that we have nurtured through these tumultuous times and will move towards a brighter future. ”