Duke University announced Friday that all new and returning students will have to present proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before they can enroll in the fall 2021 semester.
"Looking ahead, we know that widespread vaccination will be the only way to facilitate a return to normal and robust campus life," Duke President Vincent Price wrote in a statement.
The requirement will extend from undergraduate students to professional students who intend on returning to the campus.
Proof of vaccination will have to be presented to the campus' Student Health before being able to enroll; documented medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated.
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The university said all students and employees have been given the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
"We believe vaccinations are the best and most effective way for us to continue our path to return to normal," spokesperson Michael Schoenfeld told ABC11. "They are effective, they are available to everyone."
We spoke tonight 1-1 with @Mike_Schoenfeld about @DukeU decision to require undergrad and grad students to come back to Fall 2021 Semester with their #CovidVaccine.— Josh Chapin (@JoshChapinABC11) April 10, 2021
"Vaccinations are the best and most effective way for us to continue on the path to returning to normal" #abc11 pic.twitter.com/UztIozNZMd
The recent vaccination requirement is one of Duke's drastic efforts to combat COVID-19 spread. In March, the university issued a stay-in-place order for the span of a week after experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.
"The past fourteen months have been among the most difficult and exhausting in our university's history. Under great stress, and often at great peril, we have remained committed to each other-and to our missions of discovery, research, and patient care," Price finished in his statement. "Today, I ask you to join me in taking the next step toward ensuring the safety and vitality of our university community."
Duke University is the first college in the Triangle to require vaccinations. UNC-Chapel Hill told ABC11 that it will not require students to provide vaccine confirmation unless the CDC mandates otherwise.