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UT Board chooses not to mandate COVID-19 vaccine for students

The Board said COVID-19 shots are not required as part of student immunizations, but the UT System strongly recommended getting them.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee will not require students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after the UT Board of Trustees met Tuesday to approve new immunization and conduct rules.

The new rules will not require students to get COVID-19 or flu vaccines, but still require shots for MMR, chicken pox, hepatitis B, meningococcal disease as well as other vaccines specifically for students in health science fields. 

Board Chair John Compton said the decision was made with regards to "personal freedom," but strongly encouraged students to consider getting a vaccine.

"Our No. 1 job is campus safety, and vaccines seem to be our best defense against COVID-19,” he said.

Students who enroll for online-only classes, those with certain medical conditions, those who have religious objections, and other legal reasons would be exempt from the school's immunization requirements.