Rutgers University is mandating that all students get the coronavirus vaccine before returning to campus for in-person classes in the fall 2021 semester.
In response to President Joe Biden saying coronavirus vaccines could be available to all adult Americans by the end of May, Rutgers has announced that all students will need to be vaccinated before they can return to campus in the fall.
“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,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway.
Rutgers appears to be the first university to require its students to get the coronavirus vaccine. The university did not say whether it is mandating its faculty and staff get the vaccine, but did note that it “strongly” urges them to do so.
The university added that students “may request an exemption from vaccination for medical or religious reasons,” and that students who are attending classes exclusively online or off campus will be exempt.
“Since the start of the pandemic, we have said that the safety of the Rutgers community is a shared responsibility,” said Antonio Calcado, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Rutgers.
“An effective vaccination program is a continuation of Rutgers’ commitment to health and safety for all members of our community of more than 71,000 students, the cities we are in and the communities we serve throughout New Jersey,” Calcado added.
University officials insist that “widespread vaccination will accelerate the return to a pre-pandemic normal on the university’s campuses.”
But even with the vaccine mandate, students on Rutgers’ campus will still be required to engage in “social distancing,” and wear masks, according to a report by New York Times.
Rutgers says it has received approval from the State of New Jersey to administer vaccines on campus to faculty, staff, and students once vaccine supplies are available to the university.