DePaul among first Illinois colleges to mandate Covid-19 vaccine for returning students


Eric Henry

The statue of John J. Egan, located outside of the Lincoln Park Student Center, wearing a mask.

DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban announced Wednesday in a campus-wide email that Covid-19 vaccines will be required for students returning to campus this fall term.

Prior to this announcement, DePaul was not requiring students to be vaccinated before returning to campus this fall. DePaul Health Sciences professor and member of the school’s Covid-19 task force, Craig Klugman, told The DePaulia that there were obstacles preventing DePaul from mandating its students receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Klugman previously said that the school could not require students to be vaccinated before returning to campus unless the Covid-19 vaccines were FDA approved. Currently, the Covid-19 vaccines in use have been granted emergency authorization by the FDA; however, they are not fully authorized. Esteban’s announcement reversed this stance. 

“In the spirit of caring for each other and for our surrounding community, DePaul has decided to require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 when the 2021-22 academic year begins,” the campus wide email reads. 

DePaul is among the first universities in Illinois to mandate Covid-19 vaccination for students returning to campus this fall. Columbia College Chicago will require students to be vaccinated, as well. 

The university also previously said that the city of Chicago would not give doses to DePaul because the private school does not have a medical center attached, but  The email announced that DePaul will host a vaccine clinic for students, faculty and staff next week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Student Center in Lincoln Park. 

Like other required immunizations, students will need to submit proof of receiving the Covid-19 vaccine before starting the fall term. 

Under Illinois State Law, there are a few exemptions to the immunizations requirement that a student qualifies including medical and religious exemptions. Students who do not plan to return to campus will also be exempt from the Covid-19 vaccination requirement. 

“While documented medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated, we expect the vast majority of students will be vaccinated,” the email reads. 

The email also cites the increasing vaccine availability in Illinois and nationwide as reasons why DePaul will now administer and require Covid-19 vaccines. 

“We know the threat of COVID-19 will not completely disappear before we convene in the fall,” the email reads. “We also know that the COVID-19 vaccines have been proven effective at greatly reducing the spread of the virus, as well as preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19.”

As of April 21, other Chicago-based universities like Loyola University, University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Chicago will not require students to receive the vaccine before returning to campus. 

Other universities across the country have expressed vaccine requirements for students planning to return in the fall including Rutgers, University of Notre Dame, Brown University, Cornell University, Oakland University in Michigan and St. Edward’s University in Texas. 

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that DePaul is among the first universities to require students be vaccinated for Covid-19 to return to campus – not the first. Columbia College Chicago will also require students to be vaccinated to return.