- A leading higher education health association recommended Thursday that colleges, where state law and resources allow, require the coronavirus vaccine this fall for students who participate in on-campus activities.
- The American College Health Association said institutions should encourage students to get vaccinated as soon as possible. If students start but can’t complete a two-dose vaccine on campus, colleges should inform them of ways to get their second shot.
- A rapidly growing contingent of colleges have already announced vaccine mandates, and more are expected to follow.
ACHA notes that vaccination requirements for students who enter college “are not new and are time-tested.” One group survey found nearly 70% of some 200 institutions required students to be vaccinated against measles in a recent academic year. The organization acknowledged that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved the three coronavirus vaccines being administered in the U.S. under its Emergency Use Authorization. This allows the agency to roll out the vaccine during the pandemic more quickly. However, legal experts have said colleges are on a solid legal footing to require vaccines approved under a EUA, even though they may be wary of doing so.
The association said there are “indications” the FDA will give full approval soon. In case that does not occur, it is recommended that college leaders consult with their legal counsel. Colleges should try to vaccinate students, faculty, and staff before the end of the spring term, which would ease compliance with a mandate in the fall, ACHA said. This would also help mitigate the public health risk, as a “mass migration” of students leaving campus could spread the virus, it added.