Now, hundreds of thousands of students will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19, whether they want to or not.
For the most part, students will be vaccinated if it means life on campus can return to prepandemic “normal” by September. But not everyone thinks that way.
About 88% of students plan to be vaccinated against the coronavirus and nearly 3 in 4 students think the vaccination should be mandatory, according to a recent survey by College Finance of more than 1,000 students.
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However, Jackie Gale, a sophomore student at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, is not one of them.
For religious reasons, Gale was never vaccinated. The 19-year-old attended public schools in Alabama and received a religious exemption from the Alabama state health department.
The University of Alabama-Birmingham also exempted Gale from its vaccine requirements during the 2020-2021 school year, but will not apply the same exemption for the coming year, according to his lawyer.
“If they decide to give him a religious exemption, that will be the end of it,” said Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel for the First Liberty Institute, based outside Dallas. “Otherwise, we will have to communicate with them through a lawsuit. “
For those who are enrolled in school, many vaccination requirements are already in place to prevent the spread of diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
All 50 states have at least vaccination mandates for students attending public schools and even those attending private schools. In all cases, there are medical exemptions and, in some cases, religious or philosophical exemptions.
Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said it will now mandate Covid vaccination for its 71,000 students.
“We are committed to creating a safe campus environment in the fall of 2021, and to support the health and safety of all members of the Rutgers community, the university has updated the existing immunization requirements for students. to include the Covid-19 vaccine, ”a spokesperson for the university added.
Sara Razi, a 21-year-old at Rutgers, disputes this requirement.
« I’m not anti-vax, I’m anti-mandate, ”she said. “My education should not be restricted based on my personal decision to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.
Razi, who has received other vaccinations in the past, said she has not yet decided whether she will get the Covid vaccine. In the meantime, she will participate in a rally on campus to protest the school’s mandate.
The Freehold, New Jersey political scientist is also a member of Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian group active on nearly 400 college and university campuses, including Rutgers.
Rutgers said he would grant exemptions, for medical or religious reasons, although requests are assessed on a case-by-case basis.
“This pandemic has become so politicized and it is truly unfortunate that health outcomes are tied to political parties,” she added.
Colleges need to provide information and education so families can address their concerns. “Just the opportunity to listen to people and give them a place to voice their concerns,” Kmush said, “that would be helpful. “
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