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Indiana University sued by students over its vaccine requirement

“No vaccine for you. Let me know if you need a letter for the university.”

That’s what a world-class infectious disease physician told Jaime Carini, a doctoral candidate at Indiana University, who suffers from several chronic illnesses.

When she applied for an exemption from vaccination, Indiana University denied her request, and now Carini is taking the university to court over its vaccine mandate.

Carini is among seven students claiming in a lawsuit, filed Monday, that Indiana University’s COVID vaccine mandate violates their Fourteenth Amendment rights to bodily integrity and refusing medical treatment.

They say it also flies in the face of an Indiana law banning vaccine passports.

Since the lawsuit was filed, Indiana University announced it will not require proof of vaccination but that the mandate stands.

In short, if a student refuses to get the COVID vaccine they can face a stringent exemption process, falsify vaccination, or face “virtual expulsion,” according to the lawsuit.

For the few who do receive an exemption, the university requires masks, semi-weekly testing, and mandatory quarantine if exposed to COVID.

“Indiana University stands alone as the sole public university in Indiana with a vaccine mandate,” the suit states, noting other institutions simply encourage students to get it.

When asked if Indiana University’s announcement it will not require proof of vaccination but keep the mandate changes the standing of the case, the attorney representing the students, James Bopp Jr., said it does not.

In a phone interview with The College Fix, Bopp, who has argued many cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, said the mandate still violates the constitutional right to choose medical treatment and protect bodily integrity.

Requiring students to vaccinate is “not reasonable and rational,” according to Bopp.

Since the vaccines are authorized for “emergency use,” they require “complete, informed, and voluntary consent,” according to the lawsuit.

“IU students are the least at risk of a COVID infection,” Bopp said. “For those not vaccinated, they are entitled to make the decision.”

The IU Restart Committee affirmed the very low rate of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 in a recommendations report submitted last month.

The lawsuit also highlights growing concerns about the risks associated with COVID vaccination in college-aged populations. Reports continue to surface of myocarditis, a sometimes deadly heart condition, correlating with COVID vaccination, especially in young males.

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatry professor and director of the medical ethics program at UC Irvine, said that risks of vaccination for college-aged students likely outweighs its benefits for college students.

“[T]he reported rates of myocarditis in people under 30—especially in young men—suggest that the risks of vaccination outweigh the risks of Covid in this population,” he said in an email to The College Fix.

Indiana University’s spokesperson did not respond to emails and phone calls from The College Fix on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday seeking request for comment.

IU spokesman Chuck Carney told Fox News the vaccine policy remains in place for “all Indiana University students, faculty and staff.”

“The university is confident it will prevail in this case. Following the release of the Indiana attorney general’s opinion, our process was revised, with uploading proof of vaccination no longer required,” Carney said. “The attorney general’s opinion affirmed our right to require the vaccine.”

MORE: Arizona Gov. Ducey issues sweeping order protecting college students against COVID mandates

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About the Author
Alex McKenna -- Franciscan University of Steubenville