Students protest against mandatory Covid vaccinations at colleges
Across the country, more and more colleges and universities have declared that vaccinations will be mandatory for the fall of 2021.
Now hundreds of thousands of students need to get the Covid-19 vaccine, whether they want it or not.
For the most part, students will be vaccinated when it means campus life can return to a “normal” prepandemic by September. But not everyone feels that way.
Around 88% of college students plan to get the coronavirus vaccine, and nearly 3 in 4 students believe that vaccinations should be mandatory. This is according to a recent survey of more than 1,000 college students conducted by College Finance.
More from Personal Finance:
Hundreds of colleges say Covid vaccines will be mandatory
Despite being approved by the FDA, some schools state that they will not require vaccinations
Will your child’s school require Covid vaccinations?
Jackie Gale, an aspiring student at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, is not one of them.
For religious reasons, Gale was never vaccinated. The 19-year-old attended public schools in Alabama and received a religious exemption from the Alabama state health department.
The University of Alabama-Birmingham has also exempted Gale from its vaccine requirements in the 2020-2021 school year, but will not apply the same exemption for the coming year, according to their attorney.
“If you decide to give her a religious exemption, that’s the end,” said Hiram Sasser, executive general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, based outside of Dallas. “If not, we must communicate with them through a lawsuit.”
“In accordance with the applicable laws, we provide religious exemptions for vaccination requirements,” said a spokeswoman for the school. The university requires students to provide proof of immunization against certain diseases, although there is currently no Covid vaccine mandate for the fall semester.
For those enrolled in school, there are already many vaccination requirements in place to help prevent the spread of diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough.
All 50 states have at least some vaccination mandates for students who attend public schools and even students who attend private schools. In each case there are medical exceptions and, in some cases, religious or philosophical exceptions.
Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey announced that it will now require Covid vaccinations for its 71,000 students.
“Adding Covid-19 vaccination to our student vaccination requirements will help provide our students with a safer and more robust college experience,” said Jonathan Holloway, president of Rutgers, in a statement.
“We are committed to creating a safe campus environment in the fall of 2021. To ensure the health and safety of all members of the Rutgers community, the university has updated the existing vaccination requirements for students to include the Covid-19 vaccine,” said a spokesman for the university added.
Sara Razi, a 21-year-old junior at Rutgers, questions this requirement.
“”I’m not an anti-vax, I’m an anti-mandate, “she said.” My education should not be restricted based on my personal decision to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.
Vaccinations are a personal and private choice, and students should have the right to choose whether or not to take an experimental vaccine.
Student at Rutgers University
“Vaccinations are a personal and private choice, and students should have the right to choose whether or not to take an experimental vaccine,” added Razi. “So a public body like Rutgers shouldn’t have the right to dictate a student’s personal choices.”
Razi, who has had other vaccinations in the past, said she has not yet decided whether she will get a Covid shot. In the meantime, she will be attending a rally on campus to protest the school’s mandate.
The political scientist from Freehold, New Jersey, is also a member of Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian group that operates on nearly 400 college and university campuses, including Rutgers.
Rutgers has announced that it will grant exemptions for medical or religious reasons, although requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“There are a lot of people who hesitate, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to get vaccinated,” said Brittany Kmush, assistant professor of public health at Syracuse University.
“This pandemic has been so politicized and it is really unfortunate that the health outcomes are tied to political parties,” she added.
Universities must provide information and education so that families can address their concerns. “Just the opportunity to listen to people and give them a place to raise their concerns,” said Kmush, “that would be helpful.”
Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.