Few schools mentioned COVID-19 vaccines in their reopening plans. But like Dordt, a growing number have embraced the flu vaccine, hoping to prevent a double outbreak. About 70 percent of college students think an annual flu vaccine is important, but only 46 percent usually get one, according to a 2017 survey by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Cedarville provides free flu shots for students and says it vaccinates 20-25 percent of its students each year. This year the school has emailed and texted students reminders to get vaccinated at the school health center or a local pharmacy.
Others go further: The University of Tennessee announced in June it would require all students to get the flu shot before January. The school also said it might require a COVID-19 vaccine, though, like Dordt, it doesn’t expect one to arrive before the school year ends. In August, the University of California system announced its students must get a flu shot by Nov. 1.
Also in August, Massachusetts became the first state to require flu shots for students from kindergarten to graduate school, with religious and medical exemptions. The move sparked protests, but Vermont’s health department said it’s considering following suit.