Campus Messaging Boosted COVID-19 Vaccination Rates for College Students

A new report from the American College Health Association found that campus requirements helped shape students’ attitudes and actions toward vaccination.

Published September 16, 2022

Edited by Raneem Taleb-Agha
Campus Messaging Boosted COVID-19 Vaccination Rates for College Students
Opinion & Analysis
Photo by aire images / Moment / Getty Images

  • Eighty-two percent of college students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • More than 1 in 5 students received one or more vaccine dose(s) on their college campus.
  • More college students say they were encouraged to get vaccinated by their school than by their health care provider.

As college students return to campus with fewer COVID-19 restrictions, a new report from the American College Health Association reveals that the overwhelming majority of college students are vaccinated against disease.

According to the report, 85% of college students have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of these students, 82% are fully vaccinated, and 59% have received at least one booster shot.

By comparison, just 65% of the general population between 18 and 24 years old have been fully vaccinated as of this month, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.

Nearly 1 in 5 students (18%) say they are vaccinated because of their school’s vaccine requirements.

Part of the reason for high vaccination rates among college students are previous campus vaccine requirements and positive messaging about vaccination.

Though the majority of students who received at least one dose said they would have gotten vaccinated even if it was not required by their institution (82%), nearly 1 in 5 students (18%) say they are vaccinated because of their school’s vaccine requirements.

Additionally, 21% of students who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and were enrolled last spring say they received either one or all of their doses on their college campus.

Seventy-three percent of all surveyed students also revealed that their school encouraged them to get vaccinated. Students were more likely to say they were encouraged to get vaccinated by their school than by any other trusted advisor in their life, including their health care provider.

Just under half of all surveyed students (47%) additionally say they’ve received a great deal or good amount of information about COVID-19 and vaccinations from their college. Students who received information about COVID-19 from any source were more likely to trust the information from their college than from almost all other sources.

Despite schools’ positive messaging and influence over student vaccination rates earlier this year, many institutions are now rolling back vaccine mandates. Students are also becoming increasingly unsure of their institutions’ vaccine requirements.

As a result, next spring and the following fall may see a decrease in the percentage of students on campus who are vaccinated against COVID-19. This could cause further spread of the virus on campuses as schools also roll back on mask mandates and quarantine housing.

ACHA researchers suggest that schools continue to push clear and positive messaging on COVID-19 vaccination to prepare their student body and limit the spread on campus.