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Ohio University reviewing legalities of requiring COVID-19 vaccine for students

Whether or not the COVID-19 vaccine will be a requirement for all students at the university come Fall is still being determined.

ATHENS, Ohio — Of the students surveyed at Ohio University, 86 percent said they plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Whether or not that will be a requirement for all students at the university come Fall is still being determined. 

“We are certainly looking at all dimensions of that and we are strongly encouraging students to be vaccinated," said Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine President Dr. Duane Nellis. "We are looking at the legal aspect of this as a public university what we can and can't do." 

Rutgers University became one of the first largest pubic universities to mandate immunization with its announcement on March 25.  

Two weeks later, Brown President Christina Paxson announced that all students at the Ivy League school will be welcomed back to campus in the Fall and invited to live in the university's residence halls... provided they are vaccinated. 

Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, is also requiring that students returning to in-person learning for the fall semester be fully vaccinated by the first day of classes. Cornell University, Fort Lewis College, Nova Southeastern University, Roger Williams University, and St. Edwards University are also requiring COVID-19 shots for students who wish to return to campus.  

“There’s no legal reason colleges wouldn’t be allowed to require COVID-19 vaccinations," said Harvard Law Professor Glenn Cohen.

 It makes no difference that the shots haven’t been fully approved, he said, noting that many colleges already require students to take coronavirus tests that are approved under the same FDA emergency authorization. 

"But there’s also no federal guidance permitting vaccination mandates,” said Cohen. 

Governor Mike DeWine said it's important that young people get vaccinated if the state is going to control the spread.

“Young people are less likely to die, less likely to get sick. The fact is, we have young people in our hospitals today because of COVID; that should be incentive for young people to get the vaccine,” said Governor Mike DeWine. 

Ohio is using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for college students. The state says because it requires just one shot, students can leave for spring break without having to return for a second dose. 

While the state is receiving fewer J&J vaccines this month, Gov. DeWine says it won’t impact how many college kids want the shot.

“We have enough Johnson & Johnson for our college students,” he said.

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RELATED: Several Ohio universities will not require students to get a COVID-19 vaccine