Can state universities and colleges legally require students to get COVID-19 vaccine?

Updated: Mar. 30, 2021 at 10:07 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - For the first time in the U.S., a university announced it would require all on-campus students to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Rutgers University made this announcement Thursday.

All students studying on Rutgers University’s campus in fall 2021 will need to be fully vaccinated.

Students enrolled in fully remote online programs are exempt; along with those for medical or religious reasons.

The move is unprecedented in the country.

Alabama attorney Roger Appel said legally state colleges and universities can require students to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

State health officer, Dr. Karen Landers said it’s up to the individual institution to make the decision, not the state.

“We certainly want people to be vaccinated and hope people will decide to get vaccinated on their own. In Alabama, we don’t have any plans to make any vaccine for COVID-19 mandatory,” Dr. Karen Landers said.

As for whether it would be a good idea to require COVID vaccines, landers doubled down on personal choice.

“As a physician I prefer people to have their health questions answered and be able to make their decisions about what is best for them but understand that the science backs these vaccines in terms of efficacy, in terms of reducing the severity of this disease and reducing hospitalizations and death,” Landers said.

None of the colleges or universities in our viewing area have announced plans to require vaccinations.

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