Macalester College in St. Paul announced Friday it will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students and employees before they return to campus this fall.

In doing so, Macalester became the first Minnesota college to join a growing list of higher education institutions nationwide that will require that their students and employees be vaccinated. College leaders have said the vaccine requirement will help their campuses return to normal in the fall.

Macalester President Suzanne Rivera explained the decision in an e-mail to students and employees, saying that "the well being of our campus community should not be put at risk by personal preferences."

"Our students and employees deserve to live and work in an environment where public health measures help keep us all safer," Rivera wrote in the e-mail.

Macalester students and employees are expected to be fully vaccinated and provide documentation to the college by Aug. 2.

Rivera said that scheduling a vaccine appointment may be difficult currently, but doses should be widely available by the summer. She noted that appointments still are available for a Hy-Vee vaccine clinic that will be on campus April 29-30 for students and employees.

There will be limited exceptions to the vaccine requirement, Rivera said. Students may request an exemption through the same process used for other immunizations.

Those who are unable to get a vaccine in their home state or country will be provided with one upon their arrival to campus in the fall, Rivera said.

Ryan Faircloth • 612-673-4234

Twitter: @ryanfaircloth