More Colleges Require Students to Have COVID-19 Vaccines for Fall Semester

April 11, 2021 Updated: April 11, 2021

Duke University said over the weekend that it will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students before they’re allowed to return for the fall semester, joining a growing list of colleges that are doing so.

“Duke research played an important role in the development of these vaccines, and we are committed to leading the way in vaccine access for students and employees,” Duke President Vincent E. Price said in a statement. “Looking ahead, we know that widespread vaccination will be the only way to facilitate a return to normal and robust campus life.

“With this in mind, we plan to require all new and returning Duke students to present proof of vaccination to Student Health before they can enroll for the Fall 2021 semester. This policy will cover all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students—in all degree programs—who intend to be on the Duke campus for any period of time starting with the Fall 2021 semester. Documented medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated.”

Rutgers University in New Jersey became the first college in the United States to mandate vaccines. More than a dozen colleges have followed suit, including Notre Dame, Northeastern University, Brown University, and Cornell University.

The legality of colleges issuing vaccination requirements could be a legal minefield, one expert said.

“Most universities have the power to require vaccines,” said Dorit Reiss, a law professor at the University of California–Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, in an interview with NPR. “But it does depend on what the college can do generally on vaccines and what they’ve done in the past.

“There almost certainly are going to be legal challenges, because the anti-vaccine movement is already preparing for them.

“The main arguments will include the EUA question and the fact that these vaccines are early [in use].” EUA refers to the FDA’s emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

In March, Duke University issued a week-long stay-at-home order to contain a surge in CCP virus cases among students. Officials claimed it was caused by students going to parties, according to a letter.

“This is by far the largest one-week number of positive tests and quarantines since the start of the pandemic,” the letter stated.

The push for vaccination requirements comes as several governors and lawmakers have taken action to curb the usage of so-called vaccine passports that some governments and companies have proposed.