Survey: Unvaccinated US college students lie about vax status to skirt mandates

Survey finds that 55% of unvaccinated US college students are lying about their COVID vaccination status

Nurse Helene Leger gives FIorida International University student Vanessa Claude, her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 shot at a vaccination site on campus, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (Marta Lavandier, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Many U.S. college students are lying about being vaccinated for COVID-19 at schools that require vaccinations, according to a new survey.

As many colleges resumed in-person learning this fall for the first time since the pandemic hit, several schools issued COVID-19 vaccination requirements in an effort to slow virus spread on their campuses -- including some Michigan institutions. And a number of students are reportedly lying about their vaccination status to skirt such mandates.

A survey published by found that of 1,250 unvaccinated students surveyed, 55% said they are lying about being vaccinated for the virus. The students surveyed reportedly attend a college or university that has issued a COVID vaccine mandate.

To get around the vaccine mandate, survey respondents said they falsified a medical or religious exemption for the vaccine, or lied through a verbal or written statement. Moreover, 46% say they created or purchased a fake vaccination card to show “proof” of vaccination. survey respondents say in order to dodge their college's COVID vaccine mandate, they either faked a vaccination card, lied in a verbal or written statement or falsified a medical or religious exemption for the vaccine. (

Michigan college COVID vaccine mandates

In Michigan, multiple universities issued COVID vaccine requirements for on-campus students, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and Oakland University.

Last month, the University of Michigan said 91% of its students were fully vaccinated for the virus as of Aug. 25 -- just days before the university’s Aug. 30 vaccination deadline. The mandate was issued for all three of its campuses and at the university’s Michigan Medicine hospital.

Just last week, University of Michigan officials reported that COVID activity had begun to decrease on campus, with student cases and positivity rates on the decline as of Sept. 21. Officials said a total of 517 virus cases have been identified on U-M’s campus since Aug. 21, with 230 of those cases having been reported during September.

The State News reported on Sept. 7 that 88% of 600,000 Michigan State University students, faculty and staff indicated that they were fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The university received the 600,000 responses at the beginning of the month, weeks after it announced the vaccine requirement for on-campus students, staff and faculty, the student newspaper reports.

The university had more than 38,400 undergraduate students enrolled in the fall of 2020. It is unclear what percentage of the numbers reported on Sept. 7 are attributed to students.

Related: Largest colleges push student vaccines with mandates, prizes

Some schools, like Michigan State University, are not requiring students to show a vaccination card to prove their COVID vaccination status. Many schools said they were not concerned about the widespread use of fake vaccination cards, and that they felt confident about their ability to verify a person’s vaccination status.

It is unknown if any of the survey respondents attend Michigan schools.

Unvaccinated students lie about vax status in social settings

The survey also found that half of unvaccinated students lie about their vaccination status while in social settings.

According to the survey, 51% of unvaccinated students lie to their peers, saying they are vaccinated for COVID while in social settings. Majority of the students who responded -- 60% -- say they lie about their vaccination status to “avoid people with different opinions on the vaccine.” Respondents also said they lied to avoid pressure to get vaccinated, avoid being shamed and to avoid being excluded.

College students who responded to's survey say they lie about their vaccination status in social settings to avoid others' opinions, avoid pressure to get vaccinated, avoid being shamed and avoid being excluded. (

Related: Wayne State mandates flu vaccine for fall, winter semesters

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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.