Does your college require a COVID shot to return this fall? It mostly depends if you are in a red or blue state

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Credit: Erik S Lesser/EPA/Shutterstock
Credit: Erik S Lesser/EPA/Shutterstock

More than 500 colleges and universities plan to require coronavirus vaccination for at least some of their students and employees, according to data as of [June 22] from the Chronicle of Higher Education… The vast majority of vaccine-mandate schools are in states President Biden carried in last year’s election, reflecting a deep red-blue divide. Some mandates only apply to students in campus housing.

Decisions about vaccine requirements are shot through with politics. In emails obtained through public record requests, officials at public universities in Republican-led states acknowledge the sensitivity of the issue.

After the private University of Notre Dame in Indiana adopted a mandate in April, Daniel J. Pugh Sr., then vice president for student affairs at Texas A&M University, wrote in an email: “You could move Notre Dame to Texas … that might reverse your decision.” 

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At Ohio State University, another public flagship in a Republican-led state, there is no vaccine mandate. But there will be pop-up vaccination clinics in dormitories and perhaps vaccine-incentive raffles of free football tickets. “We decided together that we’re going to look at this not through a political lens, we’re going to look at it through a public health lens,” said Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson.

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