Princeton joins growing list of colleges requiring COVID vaccine for students

Apr 21, 2021

By Kelly Heyboer | NJ Advance Media for

Princeton University students can’t come on campus next fall unless they have proof they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine, school officials announced Tuesday.

The Ivy League school joins a growing list of universities — including Rutgers and Fairleigh Dickinson in New Jersey — that will require the vaccine for students as they prepare for the 2021-2022 school year.

Princeton’s requirement applies to its nearly 7,800 students, including undergraduates, graduate students and international students. But, some exceptions will be made.

“Medical and religious exemptions from the vaccination requirement will be granted in accordance with the university’s reasonable accommodation policies and legal requirements,” Princeton said in its announcement.

Students must upload proof they have had their final dose of a U.S.-approved vaccine to the university’s online health portal by Aug. 1.

It is unclear if professors and the rest of Princeton’s faculty and staff will be required to get the vaccine.

“The university has not yet decided whether to require faculty, staff and others working or otherwise present on campus during the 2021-22 academic year to provide proof of having received an authorized vaccine. However, the university highly recommends vaccinations for all employees and other members of the campus community,” the announcement said.

Rutgers University was among the first large schools to announce a vaccine requirement last month. The 71,000-student state university will require students to be vaccinated against the virus before the fall semester.

Faculty and staff will not be required to get the vaccine, Rutgers officials said.

Fairleigh Dickinson University, the state’s largest private university, announced last week that the 12,000 students on the Metropolitan Campus in Hackensack and Teaneck and the Florham Campus in Madison must be fully vaccinated to enroll for fall classes.

Several New Jersey campuses, including Stockton and Rowan universities, have said they strongly recommend, but do not require, vaccines for students.

Other local colleges and universities have either not announced a decision yet or said they are watching the virus rates and awaiting guidance from the state before making any vaccine requirements.

Across the country, colleges are divided over whether they can or should mandate vaccines for fall enrollment. Brown, Cornell, Northeastern and the University of Notre Dame are among the schools that have announced vaccines will be mandatory for students.

Other schools, including Virginia Tech, have said they do not believe they can legally require students to get the shots because the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only approved emergency use of the vaccines and has yet to give them full approval.

There are also questions about whether requiring faculty and other employees to get vaccine shots will lead to legal challenges.

Federal law already requires colleges to exempt students from getting vaccines, including the meningitis vaccine, for medical reasons. Most schools also allow exemptions for religious reasons.