VALPARAISO — Valparaiso University and the University of Notre Dame will require all students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester.

They join a growing list of colleges and universities, including Rutgers, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell and Northeastern, that have told students they must get vaccinated before returning to campus.

They hope to achieve herd immunity on campus, which they say would allow them to loosen spacing restrictions in classrooms and dorms.

But some colleges are leaving the decision to students, and others believe they can’t legally require vaccinations. At Virginia Tech, officials determined they can’t because the FDA has only allowed emergency use of the vaccines and hasn’t given full approval.

Both Valpo and Notre Dame will accommodate documented medical or religious exemptions.

“Valparaiso University holds the health and safety of our campus as our highest priority,” said José Padilla, university president. “As we look to provide our students the optimal college experience and learning environment, the University will continue to follow the guidance of local and national health experts.

“A vaccinated campus is the safest and most effective way to accomplish our objective of in-person instruction this fall.”

Valpo’s Student Health Center has ordered vaccines to administer to students, who will be notified when appointments open.

It currently requires enrolled students to be immunized for measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and meningitis, and last fall required all students to receive the flu vaccine.

In South Bend, “Requiring students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 is a new and important addition to our health policies, one that we believe will enhance public health at Notre Dame and in our community, while also contributing to our ability to return to a more vibrant campus environment,” university president Rev. John Jenkins said.

The announcement came just before Notre Dame opened a clinic to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech two-dose vaccine.

School officials encouraged students to be vaccinated in the coming weeks, saying state health officials assured the university an ample supply is available to fully inoculate the student body, and any faculty and staff who have not yet been vaccinated.

The university will work with international students who may have received other vaccines that have not been approved in Indiana, spokesman Dennis Brown said.

Holy Cross College and St. Mary’s College in Indiana have also mandated vaccines for all students this fall.

Spokesmen for Indiana University and Purdue University have said neither institution is requiring the vaccine yet.

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