Should universities require COVID-19 vaccines for students in the fall?


Photo provided by Fiona Dunn

Sophomore Fiona Dunn gets her vaccine at Walgreens in Wilsonville.

As the United States moves towards 40% of the population being fully vaccinated (the current number is 36.7%), many universities have stated that they will require students to be vaccinated in the fall. Notably among those requiring vaccines are the UC system, all Oregon public universities, and many other schools throughout the United States. It is also estimated that many more universities will announce requirements in the near future.

Vaccine requirements may become commonplace for many events this year, and universities are trying to extinguish COVID-19 cases from further disrupting school this fall. “The science is clear: the COVID‑19 vaccine effectively eliminates the chances of death or serious illness in nearly all COVID‑19 infections,” said University of Oregon President Michael Schill in his message to students. This echoes the narrative we’ve seen from many university executives in the past few months.

COVID-19 vaccine requirements have become a hot-button issue throughout the United States recently, and many people are taking different sides. As someone who will be attending a university in the fall, this is an issue that I have thought a lot about. On one hand, all universities already require students to have certain vaccines before they come on campus. Measles, smallpox, and polio vaccines have long been required by universities, which begs the question, how is the COVID-19 vaccine any different? On the other, this is a vaccine that many people are skeptical of, and is it fair that they’re forced to take the vaccine to attend school?

The way I see it, once you get the COVID-19 vaccine you are protected from it, this is something that has been shown by science again and again. And if you get vaccinated it shouldn’t matter whether others have or haven’t since you are protected. This is the logic that I’ve applied to university requirements. If you want to be protected from COVID-19, get vaccinated, and if you don’t get vaccinated you’re on your own. I don’t think that people should be forced to get the vaccine to be on campus if they don’t want to.

I am in no way deterring people from getting vaccinated, and I believe that everyone should get vaccinated when they’re eligible in order to protect themselves. However, people who don’t want to get the vaccine for personal reasons shouldn’t be forced to. For this reason, I believe the universities should not require the COVID-19 vaccine in the fall.