US colleges divided over requiring student vaccinations

Tracking The Vaccine

BOSTON (AP/WFLA) — U.S. colleges hoping for a return to normalcy next fall are weighing how far they should go in urging students to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including whether they should — or legally can — require it.

Some have already said students will have to get shots before returning to campus, including at Rutgers, Brown, Cornell and Northeastern.

They say they will help protect their campuses and give students the confidence to return.

But some schools say they cannot legally require vaccinations because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only allowed the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines and hasn’t given them its full approval. Still, other colleges are opting to recommend shots without requiring them.

In Florida, Nova Southeastern University is currently reviewing its plan to require shots for all students, faculty and staff who return to the school in the fall.

NSU had said it was the first school in the country to require vaccines for both staff and students. But in a new statement on the university’s website, President and CEO George Hanbury notes that the Davie-based school has deployed a group of experts to evaluate “how the executive order may affect our plans.”

This comes following Gov. DeSantis signing an executive order waiving the requirement that people show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to patronize a business.

“It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society,” DeSantis had said at a press conference.

Under the governor’s order, government agencies are barred from issuing documentation that would certify a person’s vaccination status to a third party or publish or share an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination record or similar health information.

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