Will your college mandate vaccines this fall? It depends — mostly — on whether Democrats or Republicans control your state

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Rutgers University Medical School Dean Dr. Robert L. Johnson gets his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Credit: Amy Newman/USA Today
Rutgers University Medical School Dean Dr. Robert L. Johnson gets his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Credit: Amy Newman/USA Today

In a divided nation, college vaccine mandates are mostly following familiar fault lines. As of [May 22] only 34 — roughly 8 percent — are in states that voted for Donald J. Trump, according to a tracker created by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Nine of those were added on [May 21], when Indiana University and its satellite campuses became rare public universities in a Republican-controlled state to mandate vaccines. Though the 400 campuses are only about 10 percent of the nation’s roughly 4,000 colleges and universities, experts say the political gap is likely to persist.

With many colleges facing falling enrollments and financial pressure, the decision whether to require vaccinations can have huge consequences. Particularly in Republican-controlled states, college presidents are weighing a delicate equation — part safety, part politics, part peer pressure and part economic self-interest.

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For the most part, the colleges choosing to enforce vaccine mandates in states that voted for Mr. Trump are private, name-brand schools not worried about meeting enrollment targets. The list reads like a roster of the most prestigious universities in those states: Tulane University in Louisiana, the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and Duke and Wake Forest Universities in North Carolina.

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