Skip to content
Breaking News Alert Breach In Wisconsin Campaign Finance System Exposes Security Risks

As Students Leave Campus For Summer, Colleges Are Requiring The COVID-19 Vaccine If They Want To Return This Fall

Vanderbilt is requiring all students and faculty be vaccinated, but never specified what would happen to those who refused, or how they will validate someone is vaccinated.


Hundreds of universities are choosing to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for students and staff no matter their risk level or concerns about the shot.

Some schools are highly encouraging students and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine while other universities are blowing past the potential legal issues that come with an immunization that only has emergency approval to mandate the shot for everyone who plans to enroll or set foot on campus. Vanderbilt University is one of the most recent colleges to join the ever-growing list of schools requiring the virus immunization shot.

Vanderbilt first sent an email to its students in mid-May informing them that they must receive the COVID-19 vaccine to return to the undergraduate and graduate programs in the fall.

“To keep our community as safe as possible and help ensure our ability to continue to conduct in-person teaching and learning, we will require all new and returning students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the 2021–22 academic year,” the email stated.

The university later clarified that all faculty, staff, and even postdoctoral fellows are also expected to be fully vaccinated before returning to the school in the fall 2021 semester. Those concerned about the vaccine’s lack of FDA approval are allowed to appeal for an exemption for medical or religious reasons but all requests for the exception must be submitted by June 15, giving students just one month before their options expired.

The Tennessee university never specified what would happen to students or staff who refuse to take the COVID shot, have their exemptions denied, or even how the school plans to validate that someone is vaccinated.

This lack of communication paired with the looming threat that they might be able to return to school is frustrating for some students like Carolyn Kraft who is still grappling with taking an ethically questionable vaccine for a virus that has significantly low chances of killing healthy people in her age group.

“I am constructively indebted to the school, and so is anyone else who has taken more than one year at the school. At this point, my option is to take the backseat or get kicked out or drop out and lose all the money all the time and effort I put into this university to get the degree that I worked so hard to get and that I honestly deserve,” the Vanderbilt law student told The Federalist. 

Like many universities, Vanderbilt has its fair share of leftist professors who control narratives and push partisan agendas in their classrooms. Political educators combined with the social pressures created by activist students on campuses all around present a new challenge to incoming and also returning students who may have grown accustomed to attending in-person classes during the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. It also dampens and even discourages healthy discussion and debate about the COVID-19 vaccine and Vanderbilt’s mandate and even scared some students away from speaking to the media about their skepticism.

“A lot of people are scared of losing friends,” Kraft told The Federalist. “…I don’t really care if people don’t like me because of my opinion, but some people, they just haven’t had to deal with people disliking them for their opinions before in their life so they’re really apprehensive about that. They want to be invited to social gatherings…they’re scared that they’re gonna not be employed. They’re scared that they’re going to get a bad grade [if they speak out].”

Kraft is not alone in her skepticism and worry. Surveys show mixed results when it comes to students willing to take the COVID vaccine, especially if it is required. Forced vaccinations also raise questions about the disproportionate effect universities could have by barring low-income students, who as a whole, tend to be more skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine than other groups, from returning to school until they get their immunization.

More than 100 other universities have issued vaccine mandates. Here is a state-by-state look.