In the Headlines
March 29, 2021

Can Colleges Force Students To Get COVID-19 Vaccines?


Education attorney Jeffrey Nolan spoke with MarketWatch about the growing dilemma of whether higher education institutions can require their students to get a COVID-19 vaccine. While colleges legally can and often do mandate students receive vaccines for measles, rubella and other diseases, those vaccines have full Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are authorized under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization. There is no legal precedent to know how courts will view an institution’s response to a student or employee refusing a COVID-19 vaccine under emergency-use status. 

Like employees, students would likely have certain rights to decline vaccination for reasons related to disability or religion, but would not have additional rights held by employees. Those additional rights are created by union contracts or state employment law protections, said Mr. Nolan. “If a student chooses to come to an institution, they agree to abide by the rules and some of those are pretty intrusive, but they are often necessary,” he continued. “It doesn’t mean someone won’t litigate it, but I see less nuance when it comes to the student-side of things than the employment-side of things.”

READ: Can Colleges Force Students To Get COVID-19 Vaccines?

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