NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork)Rutgers University announced Thursday students returning to campus in the fall must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

School officials said any of the three currently available vaccines are acceptable.

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However, they advise students under 18 to get the Pfizer vaccine, which the FDA has authorized for people as young as 16.

COVID VACCINE

Some students say it will help them feel more comfortable on campus.

“I think it’s pretty smart,” said Flor Romero, of Stockholm.

“I think showing proof of vaccination for the fall will definitely help in stopping the spread,” said Anuj Chaturvebi, of Marlboro.

“I know some people who will probably not like it, but I think for, like, the greater good of keeping the community safe, it’s a good idea,” said Christina Yang, of South Brunswick.

“We’re looking to build the safest campus in America,” said Antonio Calcado, the university’s executive vice president.

Calcado told CBS2’s Jessica Layton the school already requires students to have other shots; this is just one more.

“We wanna give our students, in a safe manner, back their college experience,” he said. “We do expect there will be people who do not agree with this decision, and we’ll deal with that.”

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The university is one of the first in the Tri-State Area to make the COVID vaccine mandatory.

NYU, Hofstra and Montclair State are all strongly encouraging it but haven’t decided if they’ll require it.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The decision comes as health experts warn New Jersey is on the verge of a third wave.

Hospitalizations are at the highest number in more than a month, and it’s a major cause for concern in hard-hit Newark.

“Unfortunately, I do think if there is, in fact, an issue with variants causing increased spread or whatever the other causes are, our community will be hit first,” said Shereef Elnahal, with University Hospital in Newark.

The state has only vaccinated 14% of the population; that number needs to get to 70%.

Back at Rutgers, administrators say if students can’t find a place to get vaccinated on their own, they do expect to get a supply of doses on campus. Meanwhile, testing will continue for all students, faculty and staff.

The vaccine requirement does not apply to students who are only taking online classes. Those with medical or religious reasons can apply for an exemption.

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CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team