DEKALB, Ill. (WTVO) — Northern Illinois University announced Wednesday that it will be requiring all students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend classes this Fall.
The rule will apply for all students taking in-person courses or living on campus, the school said in a statement.
“The science continues to show that the vaccines are safe and effective in not only protecting against COVID-19 but in reducing its severity and limiting its transmission. The benefits to our students’ health and well-being, as well as the communities in which they live, learn and work, are clear – and warrant that we take this action,” said President Lisa C. Freeman.
“There are members of our community who are reluctant to get vaccinated because of concerns about side effects, mistrust of our health systems or a lack of understanding the science involved in creating the vaccine. I did not hesitate to get vaccinated because I am convinced that facts show the vaccine is safe, effective and worthwhile,” she added.
NIU is not requiring employees to receive the vaccine.
According to the American College Health Association, more than 300 universities will require students to be vaccinated before returning to campus this fall.
On Monday, the University of Illinois announced it would require all students to be vaccinated to return to classrooms on campus.
Legal scholars say the COVID-19 vaccines’ emergency use status moves the issue to a legal gray area that’s likely to be challenged in court, and some colleges may take a more cautious approach to avoid litigation.
Harvard Law professor Glenn Cohen, who teaches health law and bioethics, said there’s no legal reason colleges wouldn’t be allowed to require COVID-19 vaccinations. It makes no difference that the shots haven’t been given full approval, he said, noting that many colleges already require students to take coronavirus tests that are approved under the same FDA emergency authorization. But there’s also no federal guidance explicitly permitting vaccination mandates.
Federal law requires colleges to provide accommodations to students who refuse a vaccine for medical reasons, and most schools are also offering exemptions for religious reasons.