Mapping COVID-19 Vaccination Among Students at Baylor University: A Comparative Approach




Chatta, Waleed

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The COVID-19 pandemic represents a tumultuous time characterized by many challenges but also some successes. As the pandemic continues through its declining phase, vaccination against COVID-19 remains a contentious topic. One group under scrutiny is college-aged students (18-24 year-olds), who can serve as catalysts for the spread of the virus, considering their youth, mobility, and independence. In recognition of this, some institutes of higher education have mandated vaccination among their students, but many more institutions, such as Baylor University, have taken a more passive stance. In light of Baylor’s refusal to require vaccination, this study explores trends in vaccination at Baylor and evaluates Baylor’s student vaccination rate. First, data was obtained from Baylor’s department of Health Services and subsequently analyzed to uncover vaccination trends. Second, vaccination data was gathered from comparable universities—any R1 private 4-year institution in the United States—to evaluate Baylor’s student vaccination rate. Three trends were detected: males were generally older than females, and a higher proportion of female undergraduates and male graduate students were vaccinated compared to their counterparts. The underlying reason for these trends was unclear. In regard to overall student vaccination rates, Baylor University had a significantly lower rate (78.8%) than the average rate observed among other R1 private 4-year institutions (96.4%). However, this difference was largely attributed to all the other institutions mandating vaccination toward COVID-19 at some point during the pandemic, illustrating that mandates can significantly increase vaccination. The only exception was Rice University, which achieved a voluntary community vaccination rate of >90%. From a public-health perspective, a vaccination rate of >70% was classified as adequate to achieve herd immunity toward the initial variants of COVID-19. Considering this, Baylor University met a stated public health goal but fell short in maximizing vaccination among its students.