University in Indiana Requires Students to Get Vaccinated
By Sophia Mao
A little over a week ago, the Indiana University vaccination mandate was upheld by Judge Damon R. Leichty of the U.S. District Court. In his opinion, public health concerns are more important than individual freedoms.
According to the school’s policy, all students must get fully vaccinated before enrolling unless they qualify for a medical, religious or ethical exemption. Online students are able to avoid the vaccination mandate. Students who refuse to get vaccinated and are not eligible for an exemption may have their courses canceled and their access to online university systems revoked.
In June, 8 students decided to sue the school. In their argument, they stated that the policy wasn’t corresponding with the 14th amendment (which includes rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity, and the right to reject medical treatment). The students also backed up their statement by including the fact that people their age had a relatively low risk of developing serious symptoms, as well as the possibility of long term health risks from the vaccine.
Judge Damon Leichty wrote in his ruling that "The situation here is a far cry from past blunders in medical ethics like the Tuskegee Study."
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this topic; a lot of vaccine requirements depend on whether a school is in a Republican-led or Democratic-led state. However, even some universities in the same state may have different policies. These schools may have different rules, but they all share the same goal: to get as many students vaccinated as possible.
Even if some schools choose not to mandate vaccinations, they are providing alternatives for students who refuse. A good example of this is what the University of Mississippi Medical Center did. Recently, they announced that students could either choose between getting vaccinated or wearing an N-95 mask.
In general, officials oppose the mask mandates. The Food and Drug Administration has only approved the vaccines for emergency use, not giving full approval. Mr. Bopp, a lawyer known for his conservative advocacy on national legal issues, says “When you’re at the end stage of a pandemic and it’s ameliorated by about 95 percent, mandating the vaccine to the least vulnerable to a Covid infection, i.e. students, is not justified” in an interview.
As of now, at least 80 schools nationwide have announced they will require vaccines in the fall. The school vaccination policies continue to be a debated topic as the start of the school year gets closer and closer.