The recent pandemic complicated many facets of life, especially for college students. Massive lecture rooms and crowded dormitories have become a thing of the past. Now that vaccines are rolling out, can college students be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine? The question doesn't have a straightforward answer.
Curious students can read more about the possibilities while waiting for a final verdict from their university. A few notable factors could predict the future if the continued vaccination efforts go according to plan.
Consider Current Standards
Packing a suitcase and pinning cute pictures of dorm rooms aren't the only ways to prepare for your first semester of college. You'll also need to stop by your doctor's office for whatever vaccinations your university requires. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared vaccinations imperative to public health, so federal and state laws reflect that.
Incoming first-year students almost always need to get vaccinated against diseases like influenza, measles and the human papillomavirus (HPV). The immunization laws that prevent these diseases from instigating outbreaks will likely apply to the COVID-19 vaccine as well, considering the high rate of transmission and fatality rates.
Wait and See
Even though there's little to question about the legality of updating immunization requirements, students will have to wait and see. As for when that would happen, it's unclear. The current required vaccinations are easy to access at any doctor's office, but COVID-19 immunizations aren't.
Experts believe that people outside of at-risk groups won't be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine until mid-2021, even with production and shipment ramping up. Until then, universities will keep health precaution rules in place, like masking and social distancing. They're the best ways to reduce transmission until vaccines provide herd immunity.
Research Every Report
Some people ask if college students can be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine because they're nervous. Many myths and rumors have gone viral as people worry about what's in the vaccine and how it could affect them. Leading health care experts and organizations have begun public education campaigns to identify and solve health disparities related to COVID-19, such as hospital services, like care and vaccination.
It's smart to learn more about something that goes in your body, so research every concerning rumor to make an informed decision regarding vaccination. Solving myths — like the vaccine causing female infertility and altering DNA — will reduce immunization fears and make communities safer. It will also mitigate concerns related to required vaccinations for university students if and when that occurs.
Expect More Virtual Classes
While people wait for their vaccine appointments, college students can expect a future with more virtual classes. They remain the safest option to continue learning without risking transmission and community outbreaks. They also provide more opportunities for students who may not attend university classes because they live too far away or can't afford expensive, in-person lectures.
Expanded virtual classes may also stick around after every student gets immunized. Researchers continue working to find new vaccine technologies that don't require booster shots, but additional variants will emerge before the public can use them. Virtual classes will keep university classes on track if variants overpower existing vaccines and cause new outbreaks.
Wait for Updates
Can college students be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine? It's not a current rule for incoming students, but it could become the new on-campus reality later in 2021. When vaccines become easily accessible and available for everyone, universities may add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required immunizations to protect other students and the surrounding community.
For now, college students can expect continued health and safety protocols and virtual classes. Between online lectures and exams, read the latest vaccine research and consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.