As United States college and university students gear up to return to campus for the fall semester after more than a year of remote or hybrid learning, education administrators across the country are making vaccination against COVID-19 a requirement for coming to campus.
More than 1,000 public and private colleges and universities have mandated vaccines for at least some students and employees so far, according to a database maintained by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Those mandates come as cases have surged in some parts of the country, particularly among unvaccinated people.
Yet in the same way that public health efforts like mask mandates and social-distancing measures have been politicised in the US, students’ reactions to vaccine mandates seem to largely fall along the same lines.
While some students said they support making vaccination part of the back-to-school checklist, others are mounting challenges to the policy — including legally.
An emergency injunction filed by students at Indiana University against the school’s vaccine mandate made it all the way to the US Supreme Court, where Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett dismissed it without comment on August 13.
Three days later, students at Rutgers University in New Jersey and a non-profit known for anti-vaccine activity, Children’s Health Defense, filed their own lawsuit against Rutgers accusing the school of coercing students to get an “experimental” vaccine.
And as American students head to campus for the fall semester, the vaccine mandate debate is far from over.