Princeton University said it’s requiring all its students to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to campus this fall.
Medical and religious exemptions will be granted, the university said. And officials have not yet decided whether to extend the requirement to faculty and staff. Students will have to upload records of their inoculation onto their student online portal.
“However, the University highly recommends vaccinations for all employees and other members of the campus community,” the statement reads.
The move follows a similar decision made in March by Rutgers University and in April by Fairleigh Dickinson University. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark will also employ a similar requirement for patrons hoping to gain access to performances.
Universities across the nation are requiring their students to get vaccinated before returning to campus, including Cornell University, Yale University, Columbia University, Brown University, Ithaca College, Emory University and the University of San Diego.
The vaccines are a vital component of permanently rolling back restrictions on businesses, travel and public gatherings, which have been in place this past year to keep the spread of the virus at bay. New Jersey and the nation is relying on the COVID-19 shots from Pfizer, Moderna and the now-paused Johnson & Johnson doses.
Federal health officials said they might lift that pause as soon as Friday, after European health officials gave the green light on April 21 to continue with use of the J&J vaccine.
While the concept of a vaccine requirement by government officials has remained a culturally and politically divisive issue, many private sector actors have already rolled out such practices.
The White House has said it has no plans to implement a nationwide vaccine verification system, and that a voluntary, opt-in system would likely be run by private sector apps or vaccine cards issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control.
“Don’t get rid of the card, that’s likely to be something valuable … Laminate it and put it in your wallet,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during a mid-March television interview. “There are lots of different potential uses for that, whether it’s going to a sporting event, getting on a plane.”
He later clarified that while he was “open” to the concept of such a verification system, he would ultimately wait for federal CDC guidance.