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Rutgers becomes 1st major U.S. college to require COVID-19 vaccine for students

Graduates are pictured during a commencement ceremony at High Point Solutions Stadium at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Graduates are pictured during a commencement ceremony at High Point Solutions Stadium at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 26 (UPI) -- Rutgers University in New Jersey has become the first major college in the United States to require all of its students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to attend classes on campus this fall.

Administrators said President Joe Biden's mandate for everyone to be eligible for a vaccine by May will give students enough time to get the shot.

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"We are committed to health and safety for all members of our community, and adding COVID-19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will help provide a safer and more robust college experience for our students," Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said in a statement.

The flagship university in New Jersey said students with medical and religious exemptions will be allowed to attend classes without vaccination. Students taking classes online also aren't bound by the mandate.

"An effective vaccination program is a continuation of Rutgers' commitment to health and safety for all members of our community of more than 71,000 students, the cities we are in and the communities we serve throughout New Jersey," Rutgers Chief Operating Officer Antonio Calcado added.

The university won't require staff and faculty to receive the vaccine, but they will be "strongly urged" to receive it.

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"Vaccination is key to stopping the current pandemic," Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, said.

Rutgers is believed to be the first major U.S. university to impose a vaccine mandate for students to return to campus.

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