Opinion: Colleges Should Require Student Vaccinations


A gloved hand holding a COVID-19 vaccine vial
Photo courtesy of the National Institutes of Health

I woke up in the middle of the night to a combination of chills, heat flashes and an aching arm. I rolled out of bed, took a couple of Tylenols and quickly fell back asleep. Although I hated the way that I felt, I knew that this was only temporary: I had just received my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and I was thrilled to take this big step towards normalcy.


Within a matter of days, I was completely myself again. For me, getting the COVID-19 vaccine was a no-brainer, as I have high risk family members and frequently spend time with students due to my job and elementary school placements. I had never even thought to wonder if my fellow college friends and peers would all choose to partake in the vaccine: I just assumed that everyone would for the health and safety of the general public. My theory was generally correct, since Inside Higher Ed’s study confirms that 75% of college undergraduates want the vaccine when it is their turn.


There has been a lot of buzz and conversation surrounding the topic of vaccinations as it applies to college students. Various institutions across the country have announced that they will require students to have the COVID-19 vaccine for the 2021-2022 school year, including the University of Notre Dame, Rutgers University and Duke University. Not surprisingly, this news has sparked a range of opinions. On the surface, this is a topic that may seem simple. However, there are many factors to consider. NPR’s recently published article goes into detail about getting international students vaccinated, as well as the legal elements associated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had to approve the COVID-19 vaccine during a period of emergency, there is a loophole that, when combined with the fact that there’s no federal guidance that allows for mandated vaccinations, could prove to be tricky.


Despite all of these complexities, I firmly believe that colleges should require students to be vaccinated in order to return to campus next school year, and students should show their vaccination cards as proof. However, the exception to this rule would be those who cannot for medical reasons. For students that fall into this category, I think that consistent testing measures should remain in place.


One thing that I find interesting is the fact that approximately 70% of college students believe that colleges have the authority and jurisdiction to require students to be vaccinated before they return to in-person instruction. Additionally, colleges and universities already have immunization requirements in place for students who attend. Why would it be difficult for the COVID-19 vaccine to fall within this category?


Far too many people have been affected by COVID-19, and it is time to take this health crisis into our own hands with this simple solution. Coming from my perspective as a college student, we deserve as normal of an experience as we can possibly get. These are some of the best years of our lives, and certainly the final years before many of us begin to navigate adulthood. My heart breaks for fellow college students and friends who have missed out on opportunities and experiences. I understand that the past cannot be changed and we did what was best for the greater good of society at the time by navigating a remote learning environment. However, I feel that requiring vaccinations is the most efficient way to smoothly return to a semi-normal college journey. When these facts are laid out onto the table, this one question remains for college students: when are you going to book your COVID-19 vaccine appointment?


By Hannah Porter, Opinion Editor

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