A national study looking at the impacts that mandated vaccine policies had on universities and colleges and their surrounding communities found that those policies reduced the overall death rate of the U.S. in fall 2021 by about 5%, roughly 7,300 lives.
Almost 700 colleges and universities across the country established COVID-19 vaccine mandates to return to campus. Researchers took data from the first 13 weeks of the fall 2021 semester. They found that colleges that had vaccine mandates reduced new COVID-19 cases by 339 per 100,000 residents in the surrounding communities, and new deaths by 5.4 per 100,000 residents.
The study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research was conducted by researchers at Miami of Ohio University and Michigan State University.
“This study shows the importance these vaccines can have beyond our campuses, which in a place like Hawaiʻi is especially sensitive to our close-knit communities,” said Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, associate dean for academic affairs at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. “It is important to note that while much of our lives are returning to normal, we are still in a pandemic and we need to consider the best ways to protect ourselves and those around us.”
The study did not point to whether or not such policies should be mandated, but the authors said it is important that the impacts of such decisions be part of the available facts.
Pfizer and Moderna have both announced plans to release updated vaccines this fall in hopes of keeping up with the new variants of COVID-19.