Since returning to college campuses in the fall for in-person learning, only 49% of students accurately understood their university’s COVID-19 vaccination policies, according to a U.S. study by the Covid States Project, a collaborative effort by researchers from Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers.
Of particular concern are the unvaccinated students who may be unaware that their schools have vaccine mandates in place, which points to a larger problem of universities’ uneven mandate implementation or enforcement standards, researchers say. For example, some universities may not require students to submit proof of immunizations, even if the institution mandates shots. Some students have also sought exemptions, taken advantage of vague language, or even filed legal challenges. Complexities in the policies themselves may have also contributed to the disconnect.
“There are a fair number of uncertain and unvaccinated students in universities that theoretically have mandates,” says David Lazer, university distinguished professor of political science and computer sciences at Northeastern, and one of the researchers who conducted the study. “That should set off some alarm bells.”