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Colleges weigh mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for students

Rutgers University students move out of their dorms after being given two days to vacate campus which is shutting down due to concerns over the coronavirus, on March 12, 2020, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Get

As more Americans get vaccinated, colleges are considering mandatory vaccines for students before returning to campus.

Rutgers University in New Jersey announced last week students must be vaccinated if they’re enrolled in the fall 2021 semester. Faculty and staff are strongly urged to receive the vaccine, according to the university.

"We are committed to health and safety for all members of our community, and adding COVID-19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will help provide a safer and more robust college experience for our students," said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway, according to FOX 29.

Dickinson State University in North Dakota said it encourages students and staff to get vaccinated in order to be exempt from the current campus-wide mask mandate. The university plans to drop the mask mandate for the fall semester.

"Our students, staff, and faculty have been very good about adhering to University safety protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic," DSU President Steve Easton said in a statement. "By participating in regular screening and testing, practicing social distancing and diligently using masks, we have minimized the number of COVID-19 cases on campus."

RELATED: Rutgers University requiring on-campus students to receive COVID-19 vaccines for fall semester

Several other schools are also encouraging, but not required, students to get the COVID-19 vaccine including Harvard University, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and University of California schools.

According to a Harvard Law Review blog, there are no federal guidelines when it comes to universities and colleges when it comes to mandating COVID-19 vaccines. However, schools have required certain vaccinations as a condition of attendance.

Vaccine availability is to pick up in the coming days as more people, in some states, become eligible to get injected. 

The White House announced Johnson & Johnson is set to deliver 11 million doses of the vaccine next week.

According to the CDC, nearly 94 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine. More than 51 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, representing 15.5 % of the total U.S. population. 

RELATED: CDC changes school guidance, allowing students to sit 3 feet apart

Researchers in the U.S. and abroad are beginning to test younger and younger kids to make sure COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work for each age. The first shots are going to adults who are most at risk from the coronavirus, but ending the pandemic will require vaccinating children too.

So far in the U.S., teen testing is furthest along: Pfizer and Moderna expect to release results soon showing how two doses of their vaccines performed in the 12 and older crowd. Pfizer is currently authorized for use starting at age 16; Moderna is for people 18 and older.

But younger children may need different doses than teens and adults. Moderna recently began a study similar to Pfizer’s new trial, as both companies hunt the right dosage of each shot for each age group as they work toward eventually vaccinating babies as young as 6 months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.