In March, Rutgers University in New Jersey took a bold step toward curbing the coronavirus pandemic and ensuring a safer on-campus experience: It announced that COVID-19 vaccines will be a requirement for anyone seeking to return to in-person learning or reside in student housing beginning in the fall of 2021. And now, more universities are following in its footsteps.
In early May, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all state and city universities will require proof of vaccination for students attending in-person classes this fall. And at this point, that's hardly the exception.
Across the country, a growing list of colleges and universities are mandating coronavirus vaccines in time for the fall 2021 semester. And while some critics argue that that's overstepping, it's important to remember that most colleges already have vaccine requirements in place. Given the close quarters students in dorms live in, that makes sense.
Not only that, but all 50 states have some sort of vaccine mandate for students in public schools, and some have similar requirements for private schools and daycare centers. Generally, there are medical or religious exemptions that apply in these situations, and for the most part, we can expect them to come into play with regard to COVID vaccine requirements, too.
But still, the fact that more colleges are requiring students to be vaccinated could be a very good thing -- not only from a public health perspective but also from a real estate investing standpoint as well.
Investors stand to benefit
A lack of in-person college classes has hurt income property owners who commonly rent to students. But now that colleges are making it safer to return to campus, more students are likely to opt for in-person learning over virtual studies. And that should, in turn, create an uptick in student housing demand, which income property owners can capitalize on.
Mandating COVID vaccinations could also be a boon to student housing real estate investment trusts (REITs). Plus, local businesses that rely on student foot traffic could benefit in a very big way if more people return to campus this fall. This extends to restaurants, cafes, and independent bookstores.
Supply is ample
When coronavirus vaccines were first introduced, they were only available in short supply. But now, supply has increased on a national level, making it more than feasible for any student who wants a vaccine before the fall semester to get one.
Furthermore, so far, the only vaccine available to students under the age of 18 has been Pfizer's formula. But Moderna just announced that its vaccine appears to be safe and effective for younger recipients, and so while it's currently only approved for those 18 and older, that could change well ahead of the upcoming fall semester.
All told, getting vaccines for college students who want a jab should not prove problematic. Convincing those who don't want the vaccine to get it is a different story, but with more colleges putting the pressure on, the number of younger Americans lining up for a shot could grow in the coming months.