More than a dozen in-state colleges have now added COVID-19 to their list of required vaccinations for students returning to campus this fall, as The College of New Jersey announced its updated policy on Friday.

TCNJ also has started talks with the unions representing faculty and staff, with the intent of requiring vaccines of full-time, part-time and temporary workers on-campus, TCNJ President Kathryn Foster said in an online message.

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"Students with valid medical reasons precluding vaccination, as well as those with established and sincerely held religious beliefs that preclude receipt of a vaccination, may request an exemption from the vaccine requirement," Foster also said, similar to the process announced by most other colleges adding the COVID-19 vaccine as a requirement.

Rider University announced in late April its own requirement for all undergraduate and graduate students enrolled for the fall to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by August.

Stockton University announced its requirement for COVID vaccination last week, while Rowan University also announced a requirement and incentive program, in which students fully vaccinated by early August could receive a $1,000 credit on tuition and housing, combined.

The three COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in the U.S. are the first such wide-scale use of the FDA's emergency use option, which was created around 2004, as the country dealt with potential bio-terror threats.

Before any vaccine received EUA approval, federal officials brought the three-phase standards more into line with licensing regulations, including at least two months of follow-up after patients were considered fully vaccinated.

However, the unfamiliar territory of the emergency authorization has added another layer of anxiety among individuals and families who are vaccine hesitant.

A month earlier, Foster had said that TCNJ did not plan on implementing a mandate until the FDA fully approves the vaccines, "but that decision might change depending on the legal ability to require a vaccine under EUA."

In Rowan's case, the "opt out" for students was described as being "in accordance with guidelines for the emergency use authorization of the current vaccines." It refers to a densely-worded statute under the FDA's emergency use guidelines, that as of early May had not yet been interpreted by a court.

Rutgers University was the first to announce in late March its requirement for on-campus students, while strongly urging vaccination among faculty and staff.

Both New Jersey Institute of Technology and Stevens Institute of Technology already have expanded their COVID-19 vaccine requirements to include all students, faculty and staff by the end of summer.

The Stevens Institute requirement extends to all students and employees, "including but not limited to faculty, full-time staff, adjuncts, and part-time staff whose program of study or work assignment requires them to be on-campus."

College students in-state already are required to be vaccinated against meningitis, hepatitis B and measles, mumps and rubella (either two MMR vaccines or two doses of measles vaccine and one dose of mumps and rubella vaccine).

At least some colleges only require the Hepatitis and MMR vaccines among students 30 and younger. 

"This is an essential step in our return to an active campus community that will be functioning at full capacity in classrooms, labs, residence halls, and throughout campus for the Fall semester," NJIT said in its April 28 release.

Students need to be fully vaccinated with proper documentation, receiving either their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or a single-dose of Johnson & Johnson at least two weeks before the start of the Fall semester or moving into campus housing.

As of Sunday morning, more than 7.6 million doses of COVID vaccine had been administered across the state, with 4.44 million people having received at least one shot. Of those, more than 668,000 were between the ages of 18 and 29, while another 41,000 were 16 and 17 year olds, according to state data.

Only the Pfizer vaccine has been okayed by the FDA for teens 16 and 17, while those 18 and older can receive any of the three brands currently in-use.

The updated list of in-state colleges and universities that have added COVID to student-required vaccines include:

    - Rutgers University
    - Montclair State University
    - New Jersey Institute of Technology
    - Stevens Institute of Technology
    - New Jersey City University
    - Drew University
    - Fairleigh Dickinson University
    - Kean University
    - Princeton University
    - Rider University
    - Stockton University
    - Rowan University
    - The College of New Jersey

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