By Tara Molina

CHICAGO (CBS) — You can’t step foot on campus without the COVID-19 vaccination.

That’s the message today from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Will we see the same thing at schools across Illinois?

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CBS 2’s Tara Molina checked in with schools from around the state and reports from DePaul’s campus.

DePaul said it is still looking into it, but said it is strongly recommending vaccinations for staff and students. And while schools consider their options, one doctor said people should prepare for a vaccination requirement to become the norm soon.

Colleges, universities and health departments across the country are asking this question right now: Should a vaccine be part of the back-to-school routine.

Doctor Mark Loafman, head of Family and Community Medicine for Cook County, has a clear answer: Yes.

“In general, we require people coming to public schools or even private schools to be vaccinated against risky conditions, so this is really no different.”

Referring to the long history of required vaccinations for schools…

“It would be irresponsible for schools to not pull COVID vaccination into the same category that they do meningitis and pertussis and measles, for example.”

A spokesperson for the Illinois Institute of Technology said they have no comment on this yet.

At Northwestern they still haven’t decided on required vaccinations, but a spokesperson said the school is asking students and staff to share whether they’ve received a vaccine.

As for the University of Illinois, a spokesperson said the school follows the Illinois Department of Public Health’s guidance and right now aren’t requiring proof of COVID-19 immunization.

With any vaccine, Dr. Loafman said there are medical and religious exemptions to requirements.

His word to those concerned about the possibility of this one?

“We need to help people reframe their thinking about it from some bizarre conspiracy that it’s gonna harm people,” Loafman said. “To say this is part of the very foundation of public health safety that’s allowed us to have the society we have today.”

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We are still waiting on the state health department to respond to requests from CBS 2.

Click here to see the statement from Rutgers University.

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS CHICAGO:

“We are continuously evaluating all safety measures for the fall and following public health guidance. At this time there is no requirement for COVID vaccinations for faculty, staff or students at UIC. We are strongly encouraging COVID vaccination.”

 

NORTHWESTERN:

“Northwestern has not yet determined whether we will require students, faculty or staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Our focus right now is on providing the vaccines we are allocated to qualifying University community members. We have asked Northwestern students, faculty and staff to voluntarily disclose whether they have received a vaccine. As more members of our community gain access to shots, we will revisit whether we will require vaccination.”

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS URBANA-CHAMPAIGN:

“The Illinois Department of Public Health determines the immunizations that are required of Illinois college and university students. IDPH does not currently require proof of COVID-19 immunization.”

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD:

“You may have reached out to other Illinois publics, but IDPH determines immunizations for state college and university students. We continue to follow health and safety guidelines from public health on our campus. We have encouraged our students and employees to get the vaccination.”

DEPAUL:

“The COVID-19 vaccine will be part of the university’s multi-pronged approach to campus safety. The university is now weighing a multitude of considerations regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. DePaul strongly recommends all faculty, staff and students get vaccinated when their turn comes as it is the safest course for all. It is expected that public health agencies, such as the Illinois Department of Public Health and Chicago Department of Public Health, will continue to issue guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. DePaul will follow this guidance and all state and local mandates regarding vaccinations.”

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO:

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“As noted in the University’s COVID-19 vaccination Q+A, “the COVID-19 vaccine is not required for University personnel or students at this time.”

Tara Molina