Universities in the United Kingdom have set up vaccination clinics on campuses to urge students to get vaccinated

In an effort to make campuses as secure as possible for the autumn semester, universities are establishing their own immunization centres. With millions of students expected to arrive in September, several colleges are already telling freshmen that they would be unable to attend large social gatherings unless they are completely vaccinated owing to government limitations on nightclubs in England.

The University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol and Kingston University in south London have already opened campus vaccination centres, and the University of Stirling in Scotland, where nightclub patrons must follow contact-tracing rules, will open a centre for students and the general public on Saturday. Other universities, including Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, and Portsmouth, have indicated that vaccination services are being discussed. Although the NHS will manage and maintain these centres, universities have offered to teach students or university employees to volunteer there.

By the fall term, the umbrella organisation for vice-chancellors, predicted that many universities will have vaccination services on campus, including pop-up clinics and NHS vaccine buses. Universities are collaborating with the local NHS to boost enrollment, according to a spokesman.

Ministers contemplated making it mandatory for students in England to be completely vaccinated in order to attend classes or live in halls of residence, but Boris Johnson quickly dismissed the idea. Vice-chancellors were relieved by the U-turn since they believe coercing young adults to get vaccines is the wrong way.

“You can't compel someone to be vaccinated,” said Prof Colin Riordan, vice-chancellor of Cardiff University. "That is undeniably true. In universities, we wouldn't be able to impose a forceful approach. Instead, it must be a matter of persuasion, and whatever that can be done to eliminate barriers to vaccination should be done." Wales just downgraded to alert level 0 and lifted nearly all Covid restrictions. 

Riordan's university administration is in negotiations with the NHS about establishing a Covid vaccination centre. He said that the city had a decent walk-in centre, but that it was an hour's walk or a bus ride away from the university campuses. He went on to say that immunisation has to be "simple and comfortable" for pupils.

“I believe that all UK governments support the notion of on-campus vaccination,” Riordan added, “but the difficulty is the practicalities of how to accomplish it.” Universities typically claim that if a shortage of personnel arises, they can train more people, but data difficulties and tracking who has had which vaccines are likely to be major challenges for NHS providers.

“I believe one worry is that if overseas students arrive who are unvaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown, and there are a number of new pop-up vaccination centres at universities, it is vital to be able to follow what is going on,” Riordan continued.

People above the age of 18 have been eligible for the vaccine for quite a while now, however, according to the Public Health data the vaccination rate in younger age groups appears to be slowing. University College London's director of the Centre for behavior change Prof Susan Michie said that universities need to convey to students that vaccination is not only about protecting oneself but also others who may be vulnerable.