TUESDAY, July 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Indiana University’s mandate that most students be vaccinated in order to attend classes was upheld by a federal judge on Monday in what may be the first such ruling in the United States.
The decision came in a lawsuit involving eight students who claimed the vaccine requirement violated their right to bodily integrity and autonomy, and that COVID-19 vaccines should not be considered part of the normal list of vaccines required by schools because they have only emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The New York Times reported.
In his ruling, Judge Damon Leichty, of the U.S. District Court for Northern Indiana, said the students’ right in refusing unwarranted medical treatment must be weighed against the state’s greater interest.
“The Fourteenth Amendment permits Indiana University to pursue a reasonable and due process of vaccination in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty and staff,” he said in his ruling, the Times reported.
The vaccine requirement allows exemptions only for religious objections, documented allergies to the vaccine, medical deferrals and virtual class attendance, the Times said.
The lawyer for the students vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
“What we have here is the government forcing you to do something that you strenuously object to and have your body invaded in the process,” said the lawyer, James Bopp Jr.
Bopp, of Terre Haute, Ind., is known for his legal advocacy of conservative causes.
Bopp first filed the lawsuit in June, after Indiana University announced in May that faculty, staff and students would be required to get coronavirus vaccinations before coming to campus this fall.
American universities have taken different stances on COVID-19 vaccination. About 400 campuses nationwide are now requiring students to get vaccinated, the Times reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID vaccines.