Recent Covid-19 vaccine mandates by Indiana educational institutions, including Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame, have left Hoosiers fearing for their health autonomy. Students are being forced to accept the unknown dangers of a not-yet FDA approved vaccine or lose the opportunity to finish their degrees. University workers, most of whom have never been required to submit proof of any immunizations, will be fired if they don’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. Such coercion has no place in civil society, especially among our institutions of higher learning. Because the COVID-19 vaccine is classified as Emergency Use Authorization, federal law explicitly requires informed consent – making sure the person must be fully informed of health risks before undertaking any medical treatment. These university policies undermine that requirement.
A COVID-19 vaccine mandate for college students is particularly problematic because the risk of injury or death from COVID-19 is nearly zero, but the risk of the vaccine is unknown. Furthermore, vaccination is widely available for all people who want it.
Indiana is fortunate to already have a law in place that prohibits the state or a local unit of government from requiring or issuing a Covid-19 vaccine passport. This law extends to public universities in Indiana, but the law is not sufficiently clear. In fact, our Attorney General recently interpreted the law to allow the provision of a university’s “optional” activities, like sports, to require vaccination to participate. Is that not a passport-type system? This cannot be a correct interpretation, but we would like the legislature to act to clarify its intent.
Now that we have seen the coercive tactics used to force our young people to receive experimental medical treatment without informed consent, it is time for our Indiana legislators to broaden this protection by not allowing state or local entities, as well any educational institutions (both public and private), or in fact any business, non-profit or other entity to discriminate against people based on Covid-19 vaccination status. Additionally, no COVID19 vaccine should be mandated, and COVID19 vaccine status should never be forced to be disclosed. We ask our legislators call a special vote to amend the vaccination passport law and provide protections for all Hoosiers.
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