Hundreds of US universities welcome Covid vaccine mandates

At many schools, faculty and staff who obtain vaccine exemptions face weekly testing and masking requirements

City of Long Beach Public Health employees enter vaccine record information during a Covid-19 mobile vaccination clinic at the California State University Long Beach campus. AFP

Hundreds of universities and colleges in the US are moving to enact Covid-19 vaccine requirements for the coming school year as the country battles a growing surge of coronavirus cases due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected an emergency request by Indiana University students to challenge the school's Covid-19 vaccination requirement.

Ms Coney Barrett's decision not to bring the legal challenge to the nine-member court was a surprising move by the conservative judge, but marked the first time the court has chimed in on a vaccine mandate.

Indiana University is requiring all faculty, staff and students to be immunised against Covid-19. It also recognises that there are some with religious or medical exemptions from being vaccinated, and they will be required to wear a face mask and be tested twice a week.

University Business magazine has recorded at least 500 universities and colleges with a vaccine mandate.

The guidelines vary from school to school: some are asking only students living on campus to be immunised, while others require all students and faculty to be vaccinated.

The largest four-year public university system in the country, the California State University, announced in July that anyone coming on campus will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The state is experiencing a renewed wave of cases, similar to its first wave in the summer of 2020, due to the Delta variant.

Harvard University is requiring “all Harvard community members” to be vaccinated for the school year. It is also requiring vaccinated people to be tested once a week and those who are unvaccinated to be tested twice a week.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard is located in the second most immunised state, with 64 per cent of its population fully vaccinated.

New York University has asked all students, staff and faculty to be fully vaccinated with an FDA- or WHO- approved vaccine by this autumn. The requirement also applies to all global campuses except for NYU Shanghai.

NYU is located in New York City, which became the global epicentre of the pandemic in April 2020, but which is now reopening with vaccination entry rules soon to be introduced in many public places as cases slowly rise again due to the Delta variant.

Social distancing as well as face covering are recommended at a Covid-19 vaccination site at Jackson State University in Mississippi. Hundreds of colleges nationwide have told students they must be fully vaccinated before classes begin in a matter of weeks. AP

Further south, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, is also requiring vaccination for every student, faculty and staff member, and those who claim exemption will need to be tested weekly.

The state of Georgia, also home to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters, is suffering its second-worst coronavirus surge. Only 39 per cent of the state's population is fully vaccinated.

Most universities are asking people to upload proof of immunisation via online administrative systems.

Previously during the pandemic, students had to undergo remote or hybrid learning, with many restrictive measures enacted on campus and in residence halls. Some students deferred their education as a result.

The New York Times reported that there have been more than 700,000 cases connected to colleges and universities since the pandemic began.

The US leads the world in officially recorded coronavirus cases and deaths, data from Johns Hopkins University shows.

Only 50 per cent of the US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Updated: April 27, 2022, 11:38 AM