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N.J. Nursing School Mandates Students Get COVID Vaccine Or They'll Be Forced To Withdraw From Program

ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A nursing school in New Jersey has issued a controversial ultimatum.

It is telling students they must get the COVID-19 vaccine by this Friday or they must withdraw their spot in the program.

As CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Monday, students think it is a double standard.

"I'd rather not have my rights taken away like that," one student said.

The rights the nursing student is talking about is whether or not to get the vaccine now.

A week after the school asked students if they would be willing to take the vaccine, Trinitas School of Nursing sent out a memo Friday that said its affiliated hospital, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, requires all students and faculty "... have received the complete COVID-19 vaccine series before the start of clinical."


No one from the School of Nursing would go on camera for this story. A spokesperson did tell Rozner that the mandate is for the safety of patients and staff at the hospital. However, the spokesperson acknowledged that staff are not required to get the vaccine.

"I just want a little bit more time to make an informed decision. I believe in vaccines and I know that they can help," one student said. "Even those that work in the COVID unit of the hospital don't have to get it."

According to Dean Roseminda Santee, students' first dose must be taken by this Friday, and "students who choose not to take the vaccine for any reason must withdraw from the course before classes start."


Dozens of students who have signed a petition against it asked CBS2 keep their identities private.

"I have a boyfriend I wanna have a baby with. I don't know if I'm pregnant right now," one student said.

The school said it will provide a waiver to students with valid medical and religious exemptions or those who were COVID positive within the last 90 days.

Some who said they are trying to make the appointment this week can't get one.

The dean's memo said students who don't take the vaccine by the deadline "... will be given a seat in the fall semester following the same process for registration."

"When we reapply, we're not guaranteed a spot. We have to repay a lot of things that we paid previously," a student said.

Experts said the school's mandate is legal.

"Just like an employer, they can be required to take the vaccine," attorney Jon Bell said.

"The CDC website gives examples of vaccine requirements and mandates," said Dr. Bruce Y. Lee of the CUNY School of Public Health.

Trinitas Regional Medical Center said it may at some point require all staff members to be vaccinated.


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