7 in 10 students think colleges can require the coronavirus vaccine: survey

by Jeremy

Dive Brief:

  • A recent survey highlights questions and concerns college students may have about the coronavirus vaccine and whether they’ll be required to get it.
  • College Pulse polled around 1,000 undergraduates at public and private colleges in January. Seven in 10 students surveyed believe colleges can require them to get vaccinated.
  • Colleges reportedly weigh whether to require students to receive the shots, but the timing and nature would depend on several factors.

Dive Insight:

Students at private colleges were slightly more likely than their peers at public institutions to believe schools have the right to require” students to get vaccinations. Around a third of respondents were concerned about the vaccines’ safety, though that share was higher among students of color (43%).  The findings highlight the challenge colleges face: Educating their campus communities about the coronavirus vaccines while ensuring they continue to follow safety protocols until herd immunity is reached. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Higher Ed Dive last month that what share of people need to be vaccinated to meet that threshold is uncertain.

7 in 10 students think colleges can require the coronavirus vaccine: survey

Some states are already making vaccines available to college workers, but the rollout has been slow and inconsistent across the country. Higher education groups have pressed for college students to be vaccinated before the end of the spring term, citing their potential to spread the disease as they leave campus for the summer.

It’s not yet clear if and when colleges will require students to get the vaccines. However, officials may wait until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has fully approved the shots so they’d be on firmer legal footing if someone challenges the requirement, one legal expert said late last year. The two vaccines being distributed have an “emergency use authorization.”

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