Rutgers University is now requiring all students who want to attend the New Jersey school in the fall semester of 2021 to receive their COVID vaccine.

The shot requirement is believed to be the first announced by a U.S. college and could sound a rash of more schools to follow suit as the vaccine rolls out to all adults 18 and older by May 1.

“We are committed to health and safety for all members of our community," Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said in a statement, "and adding COVID-19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will help provide a safer and more robust college experience for our students.”

Rutgers will be administering the COVID vaccine on campus to faculty, staff and students as doses of the shot become available. But the university recommends pre-registering for a vaccine appointment now on the New Jersey COVID-19 website to “get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity and the first available location.”

However, the school is offering an exemption from the vaccination requirement for students with medical conditions or religious reasons for not getting the shot. The school also said that students enrolled in fully-remote online degree programs and online-only continuing education programs are not required to be vaccinated.

Rutgers, which has more than 71,000 students, also urges its faculty and staff to receive the COVID vaccine, but did not indicate if it was requiring the shot for these members to retain their jobs.

“Vaccination is key to stopping the current pandemic and to the return of campus instruction and activities closer to what we were accustomed to before the pandemic drastically changed life at Rutgers.” said Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and executive vice president for health affairs at the university.

Rutgers is recommending students under the age of 18 receive the Pfizer vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for administration to individuals as young as 16. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for inoculation for those 18 years and older.

Other schools are likely to follow suit soon. Although college-aged students have proven less likely to experience severe symptoms and death as a result of COVID but pose larger threats as carriers, according to Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University.

"Death is not the only outcome for Covid-19," she told NBC News. "There are a number of other very unpleasant outcomes that can have lasting impacts on your health. So to make sure that you're not going to suffer any of those things, a younger person with no pre-existing risk conditions should definitely get vaccinated."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that over 47.4 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, accounting for 14.3 % of the population. President Biden said Thursday that he plans to vaccinate 200 million people in his first 100 days in office, double his previous goal of 100 million Americans.

Leaders in Europe have been warming to the idea of deploying the Russian-developed vaccine Leaders in Europe have been warming to the idea of deploying the Russian-developed vaccine Photo: AFP / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV