In what may be a first for universities in the country, Rutgers will require all 71,000 students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend classes this fall, the university's president said Thursday.
"In support of Rutgers’ commitment to health and safety for all members of its community, the University will be updating its Immunization Requirements for Students to include the COVID-19 vaccine. This health policy update means that, with limited exceptions, all students planning to attend in the Fall 2021 semester must be fully vaccinated," Jonathan Holloway said in an open letter.
Holloway said students will be allowed to apply for medical or religious exemptions. Online-only students will not be required to be vaccinated.
A spokesperson for the university said anyone who refuses to be vaccinated, and does not provide an exemption request, can either move to an online-only program or withdraw.
As for questions about the legal standing to require people to get a vaccine that's not yet fully approved by the FDA, Rutgers said it was on solid ground.
"The university is comfortable with the legal authority supporting this policy, which has been thoroughly reviewed by our Office of General Counsel," the spokesperson added.
Rutgers has been approved to set up on-campus vaccination clinics, but has not received vaccine supplies yet. In the meantime, it urged people to register with the state of New Jersey to be vaccinated if they are eligible.