University of Illinois requiring all students be vaccinated

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WTVO) — The University of Illinois System announced Monday that all students will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in order to be on campus this Fall.

“This requirement is consistent with our own scientific modeling of the risks associated with the spread of the virus and its variants. It is also consistent with the Illinois Department of Public Health’s goals,” U of I said in a statement.

“We recognize that some individuals have health conditions or other reasons why they cannot be vaccinated. That is why it is so important that those of us who can get vaccinated do so. Those who are not vaccinated will need to follow campus-specific guidelines and any exemption protocols issued by each university. Individuals who plan to work or study remotely are exempted from these requirements,” the statement continued.

According to the American College Health Association, more than 300 universities will require students to be vaccinated before returning to campus this fall.

Beloit College announced last month that it is also requiring students to show proof of vaccination to attend classes in the Fall.

In May, Rockford University said it will not require students to be vaccinated. Both NIU and Rockford’s UIC campus have similar plans.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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