Rutgers University announced on Thursday that all students returning to campus in the Fall 2021 will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The mandate applies to all three of the school’s campus locations: New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden.
The university is believed to be the first in the United States to mandate the vaccine for students.
The announcement came from the school president’s office as the school aims for a ‘full return to our pre-pandemic normal as a vibrant institution.’
Rutgers University is preparing to bring only vaccinated students back to campus this fall
All students who attend classes on campus will be required to have vaccination proof
The university pointed towards guidance from the CDC in their decision, as well as Joe Biden’s hope that everyone will be eligible for the vaccine as soon as May.
While students will be required to be vaccinated for the Fall 2021 semester, faculty and staff are being urged ‘get immunized against COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity.’
Rutgers cites the benefits of their requirement, including more face-to-face courses, more events and activities available on campus, better dining options, and more collaboration.
The university will also begin to vaccinate people at campus after receiving approval to do so, but they have no vaccine supply yet.
Students will be required to have proof of their vaccine, even 17-year-olds only currently eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.
Students will be able to ask for an exemption from getting the vaccine, based on either medical or religious grounds.
Rutgers is also approved to administer vaccines, but lacks supply (Pictured: The Javits Center, a testing hub in New York City)
Vaccinations across the country remain a priority in the COVID-19 fight (Pictured: A mass vaccination site prepares to be opened in Queens, New York on February 24)
Those who are exclusively taking online or off-campus classes will not be required to get the vaccine.
‘Most important, a safer Rutgers community supports a safer New Jersey for our families, our friends, and our neighbors across the state,’ says the letter, signed by President Jonathan Holloway, Executive Vice President Prabhas V. Moghe, and Executive Vice President Antonio M. Calcado.
‘We are trying to build the safest campus in America,’ Calcado said to NJ Advance Media. ‘That is really what our goal is — to try to be as safe as we possibly can.
Rutgers – which has an enrollment of 71,000 students, including 51,200 undergraduates – has been testing for COVID-19 on their campuses since May 20 and sports a 1.26 percent positivity rate as of March 20.
Since the start of their program, 2,348 people have tested positive, including 1,756 students and 558 university employees.
According to NJ Advance Media, a top official previously said in January that the COVID-19 vaccine would not be required for students in the fall.
‘Rutgers, with our stance of human liberties and our history of protecting that, the vaccine is not mandatory,’ said Biomedical and Health Sciences Senior Vice Chancellor Vicente Gracias.
Even though vaccinations will now be required, it doesn’t guarantee Rutgers will have all students back on campus come the fall.
The school will be testing plans for a rotating schedule for in-person learning over the summer.
Rutgers does currently have a limited amount of in-person instruction and campus housing available to students.
There have been over 30 million total COVID-10 cases in the USA, with over 545,000 deaths
Vaccinations are on the rise, though, with over a quarter of the population partially vaccinated
It’s not clear how much of New Jersey – and the nation – will be vaccinated by the time Rutgers’ fall semester begins on September 1.
As of March 25, over 133 million vaccine doses had been administered, according to the CDC.
Approximately 26.3 percent of the total population of the United States has received at least one dose, while 14.3 percent are fully vaccinated.
That includes partial vaccination for 33.7 percent of the population 18 years or older and 18.3 percent of the 18 or older crown fully vaccinated.
COVID-19 has had a devastating toll on the nation, with 30,011,550 cases nationwide and 545,282 deaths and counting.