UT will require students receive flu shots, COVID-19 vaccines

The University of Tennessee announced that they will make flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for students, faculty, and staff.

The requirements regarding immunization have been adopted as an emergency rule.

Students attending the University of Tennessee in fall 2020 must receive flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines when they become available. 

In a recent meeting, the UT Board of Trustees approved multiple measures of protection suggested by university president Randy Boyd and chancellors of campuses across the system, including an emergency rule that makes it mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff to get both flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines. 

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Students in the UT system must typically provide proof of immunity for at least measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), and varicella (chicken pox). Some campuses have additional requirements in some cases, such as the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, which asks for a tuberculosis screening. However, the only students previously required to get an influenza vaccine were those in the Health Science Center

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As UT plans to reopen campuses in the fall, the school intends to test both symptomatic and asymptomatic students, require everyone on campus to wear masks, suspend international travel, complete classes before Thanksgiving break, and conduct final exams online -- procedures which have become standard at this point. 

Forcing students to take new vaccines is a unique proposition, one which is likely to receive resistance. 

Many Americans are already reluctant to be immediately immunized using a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that he doesn’t think America can achieve herd immunity even when a vaccine is developed, given the number of people who will refuse to get it. Looking at the results of a poll that found about one-third of Americans would not try to get vaccinated against COVID-19, CNN asked Fauci if a vaccine with 70-75 percent efficacy could provide herd immunity if two-thirds of Americans took it. 

“No -- unlikely,” Fauci responded, saying that “there is a general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling among some people in this country -- an alarmingly large percentage of people, relatively speaking.”

In the same interview, Fauci also said that the government will provide vaccine education to counter anti-vaccine messages.

UT President Boyd said he expects some pushback toward the system's new rule, The Associated Press reported, “but we think this is in the best interest of our students so we’re going to insist on it.” 

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