BOSTON (AP) – U.S. colleges, hoping to return to normal next fall, are considering how far to go by urging students to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including whether or not they can legally claim it.
Universities including Rutgers, Brown, Cornell and the Northeast region recently told students they should be vaccinated before returning to university next fall. They hope to achieve herd immunity at the university, which they say will ease restrictions on the space between classrooms and dormitories.
But some colleges leave the decision to the students, while others think they can not legally claim vaccinations. Officials at Virginia Tech decided they could not, as the US Food and Drug Administration allowed only emergency use of vaccines and did not give them full approval.
The question is, as more colleges plan to switch from remote to in-person instruction. Many schools have started vaccinating students to immunize them before they leave for the summer. In some schools, the increased requirement is to encourage retention, to build confidence that students and faculty will be safe on campus.
“It removes any ambiguity about whether individuals should be vaccinated,” said Kenneth Henderson, chancellor of Boston North East University. “It also provides a level of trust for the whole community that we are taking all appropriate measures.”
Northeastern colleges that require other filming believe that they are based on sound legal grounds. It is not uncommon for colleges to require students to be vaccinated against other illnesses, դատ A California court last year upheld a University of California system requirement for flu infection.
But lawyers say the status of COVID-19 vaccines is shifting to the legal gray area, which could be challenged in court, and some colleges may be more cautious about avoiding litigation.
Glenn Cohen, a Harvard law professor who teaches health law and bioethics, said there was no legal basis for not allowing colleges to require the COVID-19 vaccine. It makes no difference that the staff is not fully certified, he said, noting that many colleges already require students to undergo coronavirus testing, which is approved by the same FDA emergency permit. But there is no federal guideline that explicitly allows vaccination mandates.
He said the biggest clashes could be in countries that oppose vaccination requirements.
Florida Gov. Ron Desantis this month banned all businesses from requiring clients to show evidence of vaccination. The order raises questions about the Nova Souther International University’s staff’s staffing program. The college president said he was still confident of the plan, but he promised to “respect the laws of our state, all federal directives.”
The governor of Texas, the second largest state in the country, issued such an order.
There is a parallel debate over whether to require vaccinations for faculty and staff, an issue that employers across the country face. At Notre Dame University, one of the last schools to require student vaccinations, filming is still optional for staff. Northeastern is considering extending its mandate on employees.
There are exceptions even in schools that make shooting mandatory. Federal law requires colleges to provide accommodation for students who refuse to be vaccinated, and most schools offer exemptions for religious reasons.
Students in Brown who refuse to film and have no valid liberty must apply for distance learning or vacation next fall. School president Christina Paxon said in a letter to students last week.
But implementing vaccine mandates will bring challenges. Cornell անը Northeast says students will be asked to show proof of vaccine, but there is no widely accepted vaccine certificate. Cornell told the students that they can provide the card given on their vaccine website, but the dimensions of the card are different and generally seem to be easy to counterfeit.
In the Northeast, officials are still deciding whether students should submit a medical certificate to prove they have been vaccinated or whether they can confirm their immunization by actually accepting their word.
“We expected the students to be honest and sincere about any of their attestations at the university,” Henderson said.
Tyler Lee, a Northeastern student, says he thinks getting vaccinated is the right thing to do, as it will help stop the spread of the virus and protect the community around downtown Boston University. He said there was some feedback from parents but little from students.
“It’s a Northeast decision,” said Lee, who is awaiting his second shot. “If I did not like it, I would pass it on. And that is what most students feel. ”
Arayan Palomo, Brown’s newly elected freshman, said the university’s mandate sends the message that it is serious about keeping students safe. He was “happy and relaxed” when he heard about it, he said.
“I know I will feel much safer at university,” said Palomo, 18. “This is the next step in protecting each other and preventing more lives from being lost.”
Schools expect some backlash, and Republican student groups at some universities oppose the mandate, saying it should be an election.
Colleges are faced with what to expect from international students who may not have vaccines in their home countries or may receive staff that is not used in the United States. Some colleges say they plan to make arrangements to make staff available to international students upon arrival.
Other colleges are more lenient in promoting filming, including Dickinson State University in North Dakota, which is releasing students two weeks after being fully vaccinated.
Many hope that the word of encouragement will suffice. Officials at the University of Maine Bowden College said it was their “hope and expectation” that all students would be recruited. Harvard University officials “strongly advise” students to get vaccinated, but have resigned.
Some, including Dartmouth College, expect the staff to be more widely available before making a decision. Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence said officials “cannot decide on the vaccines needed until the vaccines are available to all students.”
Associated Press writer Lisa Ratke in Montpellier, Vermont Պ Ersey County, New Jersey Solomon Gang, contributed to this report.