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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A slew of colleges and universities are embracing vaccine mandates — a controversial tool that other large institutions have chosen to avoid, at least for now.

The big picture: For the most part, getting Americans vaccinated is an act of persuasion. But public and private schools alike are taking a harder tack.

Driving the news: More than 75 college campuses have said they will require students or faculty to be vaccinated in order to return to campus for the fall semester, according to a tracker from the Chronicle of Higher Education. More are expected to follow.

  • The University of California and the California State University systems — with a combined 1 million students and employees — joined the list last week. Their mandate will only take effect once a vaccine gains full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

The intrigue: Some institutions have held back on mandates for the COVID-19 shots because they feel there is too much "legal gray area" while the vaccines are still under an emergency use authorization, said Chris Marsicano, executive director of the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College.

  • "Colleges, especially those who haven’t announced whether they’re mandating the vaccines yet, are hoping and praying that students will get it on their own," Mariscano said.
  • Once a vaccine is fully FDA approved, "you will see a flood of colleges" imposing mandates, he said.

The state of play: Requiring vaccinations is much easier and cheaper than testing, quarantines and contact tracing, which cost schools millions of dollars last year.

  • "The case for requiring vaccines makes a lot of sense with universities," said John Bailey, former deputy policy director at the Commerce Department and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
  • And that will help schools' bottom lines, too. "We know that a number of students deferred going to college because they didn’t want to pay full tuition prices for Zoom-level courses," Bailey said.

Go deeper: College students are eager to get vaccinated

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
19 hours ago - Health

Why vaccine passports are still just a dream

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several practical and technological hurdles will stand in the way of widespread "vaccine passports."

Why it matters: COVID-19 vaccine mandates are quickly gaining steam, reviving interest in an easy, electronic way for people to verify that they're vaccinated. But that technology in some cases is still far from perfected, and some experts question how much it could really accomplish.

17 hours ago - Axios Tampa Bay

Biden and DeSantis snipe over Florida's COVID response

President Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis talk about the collapse of the condo building in Surfside, during a briefing in early July. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

During a week when Florida has seen COVID cases and hospitalizations break records, Gov. Ron DeSantis blamed the spike on a "seasonal pattern" and "media hysteria."

  • His latest target: President Biden not securing the border with Mexico.

State of play: At a press conference in Panama City yesterday, DeSantis claimed that Biden is "facilitating" the virus by allowing "hundreds of thousands of people pouring across [the U.S.-Mexico border] every month."

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
17 hours ago - Health

Nursing homes' vaccine challenge

Resident Douglass Tozzini gets his mask adjusted by caregiver Joseph Salazar at Gordon Manor assisted-care facility in Redwood City, Calif. on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Photo: Gabrielle Lurie/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

It's becoming more urgent to vaccinate the staff that care for vulnerable nursing home patients. But the industry, which has been plagued with workforce issues, faces a major challenge when it comes to mandating shots, the New York Times reports.

By the numbers: Nursing homes had seen major drops in infections after becoming one of the major hotspots for cases and deaths earlier on in the pandemic. But those numbers have reversed in recent weeks, CDC data shows.