U of Tennessee system won’t require student COVID-19 shots

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University of Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The University of Tennessee system will not require its students to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The board approved the rule Tuesday that doesn’t include COVID-19 and flu shots among the student inoculations required at its campuses statewide.

“These are personal choices that people will be making, and I would just strongly encourage everyone who is a stakeholder in the University of Tennessee system to consider being vaccinated,” board Chairman John Compton said during the meeting conducted virtually.

The decision is a reversal after the board approved an emergency rule last summer requiring vaccinations against the flu and COVID-19, when shots became available. University General Counsel Ryan Stinnett said the board approved a permanent rule in November requiring COVID-19 and flu shots, on the condition that President Randy Boyd would seek board approval before moving forward with requiring those two shots.

Stinnett said Boyd in January decided the university would not require the student COVID-19 vaccinations and instead would strongly recommend them.

For other inoculations that are required, students can still claim exemptions for online-only studies, religious objections and medical reasons.

Required vaccinations include measles, mumps and rubella, chicken pox, meningococcal disease, hepatitis B and certain others primarily for students in the health sciences.

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