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Could COVID vaccinations be required for NE college students?

Rutgers requiring, local universities say no
Posted at 6:29 PM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 19:29:29-04

OMAHA, Nebraska — Rutgers University is requiring students to get vaccinated before returning to school in the fall, but local universities say that's not being considered in the Omaha metro at this time.

As of this week, anyone older than 16 can get vaccinated in Nebraska and college students are no exception.

College campuses struggled with COVID-19 outbreaks in 2020. Since the start of the pandemic, 535,000 cases and over 100 deaths can be traced back to American colleges and universities.

The University of Nebraska Omaha created its Office of Health Security last summer to help the university better respond to the pandemic. The office first focused on setting up a testing clinic on campus, now their efforts focus on getting as many students vaccinated as possible. The university has been in talks with the Douglas County Health Department to set up a vaccination clinic right on campus.

“We’ve told them we’re happy to set up a site here on campus if that would help them and we’re just having those conversations. If they’re ready, then we’ll be ready to help serve," said UNO Office of Health Security Interim Executive Director Jane Meza.

But would setting up a vaccination clinic on campus then lead to vaccine requirements for all students and staff?

"Well, I think we'd have to look at it carefully and talk with our University of Nebraska system to see how we feel about it as a system," said Meza. "At this time we are not talking about any kind of required vaccinations but just strongly encouraging."

Despite universities like Rutgers mandating vaccines, Governor Ricketts said he doesn't want to see it happen in the state.

"I would be against any sort of mandate with regard to vaccines for our college students," said the governor.

For now, local universities are putting all their focus on vaccine education and resources instead of vaccination requirements, saying a requirement isn't likely in the near future.