With less than a month to go in the fall 2020 semester, Montclair State University is now making it mandatory for residential and commuter students to receive the flu vaccine, if they wish to spend time on campus.
An email from the university’s administration informed Montclair State students that they are now required to receive flu vaccines before the semester ends. The email was sent on Oct. 30, and it gives residents and some commuter students less than a month to get vaccinated before the Thanksgiving and winter breaks.
Per the announcement, the university is requiring that all residential students, commuters who are registered for in-person classes and students coming to campus for work or other campus activities to receive the vaccination.
Maria Hofmann, a sophomore journalism major, is worried about receiving the flu vaccination, because of having a weak immune system.
“I have never gotten the flu vaccine and I am not planning on getting it anytime soon,” Hofmann said. “Having a lower immune system, I can feel the after-effects of [the flu vaccine] more than anyone else would.”
Hofmann will face many challenges if she experiences side effects from the flu vaccine, as she would have to call out of work and be without income, isolate away from her family and potentially miss class time, due to being sick. When asked if the university communicated their new policy well, Hofmann cites a lack of clear communication.
“The communication about the flu vaccination should have been much clearer,” Hofmann said. “If the university had this idea in mind, they should have communicated this idea earlier in the semester, so as commuters, we could have planned the semester differently.”
Paige Dougherty, a sophomore fashion studies major who is currently taking classes virtually from home, is in favor of Montclair State’s new policy. She receives a flu vaccine every year, citing the belief that if she does not receive the flu vaccine, she will be far more likely to fall ill.
“I am for the university’s policy for students receiving the flu vaccine,” Dougherty said. “I usually get sick a lot and if I did not get the flu vaccine every year, I believe I would feel worse.”
Although Dougherty believes that everyone should receive the flu vaccine, she believes that students who have underlying health conditions should not be mandated to get the vaccine.
“The only way I am not OK with the flu vaccine being mandatory is if someone has a preexisting condition,” Dougherty said. “If you are perfectly fine and have no other health conditions that can disrupt your symptoms, then the flu vaccine should be mandatory for those people.”
The email sent from the Montclair State administration announced that the University Health Center (UHC) will be holding free, on-campus flu vaccination clinics throughout the month of November. The UHC was not available for an interview about the new policy, but in a comment, staff nurse Barbara Ackerson highly recommends that people receive the flu vaccine all throughout the year.