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Colleges 'strongly' encourage students to get COVID-19 vaccine, but will they require it?

Some universities are requiring students to show proof of vaccine to return in the fall, while others are strongly encouraging it.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Colleges and universities across the country and in the Charlotte area are making decisions about whether they will require the COVID-19 vaccine when students return for the fall 2021 semester.

According to NBC News, Rutgers University in New Jersey will require students to be vaccinated to attend fall classes on campus, and Dickinson State University in North Dakota plans to give students who have been fully vaccinated a pin or bracelet that will exempt them from the campuswide mask mandate.

In the Charlotte area, Winthrop University said it will “very likely require a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination for students’ fall return.”

UNC Charlotte is strongly encouraging all students to get vaccinated and is working on plans to make vaccines easily accessible for all students.

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UNC Charlotte and its partners hosted a one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinic on campus on March 31 when students living in group settings, such as residence halls, became eligible for the vaccine.

"A lot of them [students] are starting to head home within the cycle that would be your second shot so it's great,” John Bogdan, associate vice chancellor for safety and security at UNC Charlotte. “They're one and done, and you know, we get that much more of the population starting to move in the right direction."

According to an NBC poll, 26% of Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, said they do not plan to be vaccinated.

Bogdan said in an interview with WCNC Charlotte that about 60% of people surveyed on campus said they wanted to get the vaccine as soon as they could.

Trevor Lindberg, a UNC Charlotte student, said, "I've heard mixed things. I've heard that people can't wait to get it. I've heard people are, again, a little hesitant."

Bailey Hardin, a UNC Charlotte grad student, said she’s already received one dose of the vaccine.

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"I felt it was just my duty to get it to be able to go back to normal,” Hardin said, “get it for all the people who are not able to get it so that they can get back to normal."

UNC Charlotte announced that due to the decline of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in the county and state and the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccination, it is hopeful for a return to full operations in fall 2021. The plans include face-to-face classes at pre-pandemic levels, residence halls at full occupancy, and buildings and facilities will return to regular capacity.

"This isn't just for you,” Hardin said. “This is for our community, our state, our country to help us get back to what we think is normal.”

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.