Nevada could becomes first state to mandate COVID shot for college students

The state health board meets today to decide whether to require the COVID vaccine.

Advisors to Governor Steve Sisolak have recommended a vaccine mandate for college students.

Nevada could become the first state in the nation to adopt a statewide COVID vaccine mandate for college students. 

The state’s Department of Health and Human Services is holding an emergency meeting today to consider adding the COVID vaccine to the list of immunizations that students must get to attend college.

Specifically, the board is reviewing an emergency amendment to Nevada Administrative Code  411A.755, which would require students at any state school and “any private postsecondary educational institution” to be vaccinated against tetanus, measles, and other vaccine-preventable diseases designated by the State Board of Health. 

No state has yet created a legal mandate for all public universities, let alone private institutions.

Campus Reform examined current vaccine policies in all 50 states and found that all existing mandates for college students have been set by either the college they attend or to the college system to which their school belongs. 

[RELATED: College presidents meet, maskless, after issuing mask mandates]

The emergency meeting, originally scheduled for September, was moved up to August 20 after Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak asked his advisors to consider a statewide mandate for institutions of higher education, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.

Should state authorities add the COVID shot to the list of required vaccinations, it would be the only vaccine on the list that does not yet have full FDA approval. 

[RELATED: Student athletes react to university’s vaccine mandate for sports teams]

As Nevada considers this statewide mandate, other states have done the opposite and are using the force of law to ban mandates at public institutions. 

Texas, Ohio, Arizona, and Arkansas among the states that have banned public colleges from requiring students to receive the COVID vaccine as a condition of enrollment. 

In most states, the authority to require a COVID vaccine for students rests with the individual university or university system. However, the University of North Carolina says that only the state health authority may instate a COVID vaccine mandate for college students, per the News & Observer.

The proposed mandate would take effect in 2022, and students would be permitted to seek medical and religious exemptions.

Editor’s Note: On August 20, the Nevada State Board of Health voted unanimously to require all college students in the state to submit proof of vaccination by Nov. 1. News 3 Las Vegas reports that most public commenters at the three-hour meeting spoke in opposition to the mandate.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito