College COVID-19 vaccine requirements are facing renewed scrutiny now that California has walked back plans to mandate the shots in K-12 schools and the state and federal governments are ending their pandemic states of emergency.
The University of California recently softened its vaccine booster requirement. But immunization mandates continue at public and private campuses across the country, prompting debate as to whether they’re still worth the trouble. Students say that, in some cases, verification procedures tripped up class registration.
Dr. Arthur Reingold, an epidemiology professor at UC-Berkeley, notes that UC also requires immunizations for measles and chickenpox, and people still are dying from COVID at rates that exceed those for influenza. As of Feb. 1, there were more than 400 COVID deaths a day across the U.S.
“The argument in favor of mandatory vaccination for COVID is no different than the argument for mandatory vaccination for flu, measles and meningitis,” Reingold said. “For a 20-year-old college student, how likely are they to die? The risk is very low. But it’s not zero. The vaccines are safe, so the argument of continuing to mandate vaccination fits very well with the argument for the other vaccines we continue to require.”