The University of Tennessee has become the first one to require students and faculty to receive vaccines for the flu and Covid-19 that is yet to be developed sparking “push back” from critics.
The mandate was pushed through as an emergency rule by the university’s Board of Trustees, with the promise that it will soon become a permanent requirement.
“There may be some push-back, but we believe this is in the best interest of our students,” UT System President Randy Boyd said.
There are medical and religious exemptions from the new rule, and students who only take online classes do not need to meet the requirement.
Students and faculty will be required to get vaccines based on their availability, with the university saying they will soon “establish a timeframe” based on the release of a potential Covid-19 vaccine. Since the university is expected to have students on campus in the fall and there is unlikely to be a vaccine by then, it’s unclear when the rule will be enforced.
The school did not require a flu shot before this emergency measure.
Critics have taken to social media to criticize the move, arguing it could be a first step to more establishments requiring a Covid-19 vaccine, with some arguing this an an infringement on individual rights and choice in healthcare decisions.
“If you don’t see they layout now, you never will,” author and congressional candidate Erin Cruz tweeted, adding the hashtags “#healthfreedom” and “#individualliberty.”
“And the mandatory vaccinations begin,” independent media company The Last American Vagabond added.
“I don’t know what they know in Tennessee, but this magical vaccine is not coming before new student orientation,” another user wrote.
When will businesses start mandating vaccines for their employees? https://t.co/9cBTMOlrak
— Nathan Stolpman (@lifttheveil411) June 28, 2020
Though other schools have not pushed through such a mandate, some have taken precautions against the pandemic in preparation for reopening. The University of California, San Diego, for instance, introduced a program last month to start regularly testing students who live on campus. The program began with students opting in, but could be expanded to mass testing conducted across the university on a monthly basis in the fall.