Are Colleges forcing COVID-19 vaccines on everyone?

Requirement of vaccine for students

Photo Credit: photo via Wake Forest Law Review under creative commons license

Colleges are mandating COVID-19 vaccine on students if they want to study of campus

By: Caitlyn Abreu

Universities are making the vaccine a requirement  for students if they want to study on campus. Many parents and students are hesitant because of the high risks the vaccine has.

Towards the end of March, many colleges had to decide that vaccines are required for their students. New Jersey colleges like Rutgers (the first in the nation to require vaccinations) and Montclair State University are making the vaccine mandatory if students want to go to school in person. They are requiring the students to get the vaccine before the fall semester and prove that they got it. This mandatory restriction is fatal to a senior’s decision of which college they want to attend next year. According to CNN, over 100 colleges and universities have joined the bandwagon of requiring vaccinations as of May.

The Legal Aspect

In 1905 during the smallpox outbreak, there was a supreme court case, Jacobson vs. the Com. of Massachusetts that has set precidence. “The Revised Laws of that commonwealth, chap. 75, 137, provide that ‘the board of health of a city or town, if, in its opinion, it is necessary for the public health or safety, shall require and enforce the vaccination and revaccination of all the inhabitants thereof, and shall provide them with the means of free vaccination. Whoever, being over twenty-one years of age and not under guardianship, refuses or neglects to comply with such requirement shall forfeit $5.” Jacobson felt imposing the mandate of vaccination infringed upon his religious civil liberties. He was found guilty of not complying with the ordinance  and jailed until he paid the fine.

Jacobson was not forced to be vaccinated and the government found that it could not force people to do so even if it is for the greater good. However, if it is for public safety, the government can impose a penalty for not getting the vaccine.

College therefore can impose a vaccination requirement with the penalty of no compliance being go to another college and they aren’t breaking any laws.

Positive of Requirement

Many are for the idea of mandating the vaccine for students because it decreases the possibility of obtaining COVID-19. Isabella Romero, a sophomore at Kean University talks about how enforcing the vaccine onto students is a great way to make everyone feel safe on campus. This can cause students to feel more safe and relaxed during their time on campus. The increase of safety reassurance is given campus, the increase of the number of students per classroom and campus. The requirement will provide less fear and more knowledge that everyone has the vaccine because it was required to be on campus.

This can cause things to go back to normal. Although colleges aren’t going to be exactly how they were pre-pandemic, this can give students a type of normalcy. The mandating of vaccines causes an increase in housing, as well as on-campus events and activities. This can give freshmen the idea of what college is really like and not just being a structure of learning through computers.

Negative of Requirement

The argument against this though is the health risk factors of the vaccine. Although there isn’t a way to exactly know what negatives the vaccine does to individuals. Each person is different; physical, mental, and health-wise, so there’s no telling what exactly the vaccine does for each person. This mandatory restriction can cause conflict with federal law. The law is reassuring colleges that they need to remind students that they still have the right to decline the vaccine but colleges still have the power to restrict those people from entering campus.

This can add more stress to students because of the restriction of options they are given. Kayla Jacobs, a sophomore at Kean University states, “I’m not really comfortable with getting the vaccine yet, but since Kean University is forcing us to have it to be on campus I have no other choice. I just don’t want to miss out on my college experience.”  If students don’t want to receive the vaccine, they won’t be able to learn on campus. This can cause them to look differently at the college they are attending.

Who Has to Get It

Although many would believe that everyone on campus needs to get the vaccine, it is not actually required for everyone. If a student has a medical condition or a religious belief that restricts the requirement of a vaccine for them. They just need to bring it up to the office of the college so they are aware of the situation. Although students have no choice but to get the vaccine, professors aren’t forced to get it at all. They are given the option of whether they want it or not while being able to be on campus. Click here for a list of colleges requiring the Covid vaccine.