U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Judge upholds Indiana University's vaccine requirement for students and staff

July 20, 2021
By requiring students to receive a Covid-19 vaccination before returning to campus, the university acted reasonably in the interest of its students' and employees' public health, the judge says.

A federal judge has upheld a requirement imposed by Indiana University that all students and employees must receive a Covid-19 vaccine before returning to campus for fall semester.

The South Bend Tribune reports that  U.S. District Court Judge Damon Leichty ruled that the students who challenged the university did not show they would suffer irreparable harm under the vaccine requirement and that that university has acted reasonably in the interest of its students' and employees' public health. 

Eight students sued the university over its requirement.

The students' lawyer argued in court last week that the vaccine requirement violates students' rights to bodily integrity, informed choice of medical treatment and religious freedom, essentially forcing them to choose between getting vaccinated and continuing their education at  Indiana.

But Judge Leichty disagreed.

"The university is presenting the students with a difficult choice — get the vaccine or else apply for an exemption or deferral, transfer to a different school, or forgo schools for the semester altogether," Leichty wrote. "But, this hard choice doesn't amount to coercion."

Indiana’s policy will require all students, faculty and staff in the fall semester to be fully vaccinated either by Aug. 15 or when returning to the Bloomington campus after Aug. 1, whichever is earlier.

Attorneys for the university said it imposed a vaccine requirement as a means to exercise what federal health officials describe as the best way to protect people from contracting the coronavirus.

"A ruling from the federal court has affirmed Indiana University’s Covid-19 vaccination plan designed for the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff," university spokesman Chuck Carney said Monday. "We appreciate the quick and thorough ruling which allows us to focus on a full and safe return. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our campuses for the fall semester."

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