NATIONAL

Colleges Have No Right to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations

FROM OUR PRINTED JUNE 2021 EDITION

by Beth Guidry Hoffman

Imagine the anticipation of students just starting college in the fall. They’ve suffered through the pandemic, unable to visit prospective colleges, many unable to take the SATs. Returning students, who were either sent home or to their dorm rooms for remote classes last fall, are likely eager to be back in-person. Some of them may have already had Covid!

Then suddenly mid-April, just prior to National College Decision Day (May 1), universities began mandating students get the Covid vaccine. In what appears to be a waning pandemic, with states opening up–even Massachusetts allowed to fully open–why are so many universities making them a requirement? (Massachusetts with the highest number of schools doing so.) Because these vaccines are experimental, this means college students will be used as guinea pigs.

“My school previously posted they would not be able to mandate Covid shots until they were fully authorized by the FDA. But now we are required, as of August 1, to have all vaccine documentation turned in. So, they are going against their previous statement,” said a sophomore in the UMass system who declined to give his name. Pfizer applied for full FDA approval in May, and as of press time Moderna was planning to file for the same. However, “it’ll likely take months before the FDA makes a decision to grant full approval for the Pfizer vaccine” (https://tinyurl.com/twj39x64). A possible faux pas on the university’s part?

Another possible faux pas – a medical one – would require students who have already had Covid to get this vaccine. “There is an urgent need for debate on the issue of vaccinating people who have already recovered from COVID-19,” according to Paul E. Alexander, an epidemiologist writing for the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). “We can argue it is unsafe to indiscriminately vaccinate the recently or currently infected” (https://tinyurl.com/4adv3wys).

With more and more headlines of breakthrough Covid cases in vaccinated people, and continuing deaths and injuries, including miscarriages and stillbirths (https://tinyurl.com/tah2d5ju), any experimental vaccine mandate clearly goes against the Nuremberg Code, violating bodily autonomy. Written in 1947, “it is the most important document in the history of the ethics of medical research” (https://tinyurl.com/5ckmt6ey). “Last time I checked, each of us has the right to privacy, to bodily integrity, and to make an informed consent before undergoing any invasive medical intervention,” stated Robert Destro, law professor at the Catholic University of America. “COVID-19 did not rewrite the U.S. Constitution … or the many laws and norms of medical ethics that guarantee … these rights,” continued Destro, also a religious freedom scholar (https://tinyurl.com/m6auv5ud).

We seem to have a free-for-all, where the government is pushing the vaccine, along with the healthcare industry, some businesses … and now universities and colleges mandating it. “There is nothing in law … that would authorize such a mandate,” Destro said. “The law would be on the side of students who wish to take on their universities in a legal battle,” he added.

There have been successful treatments for Covid for many months. Local frontline doctors in California, for example, have treated thousands of COVID-19 patients successfully (https://tinyurl.com/7kwtuvex). Combined with close to a 99.7% recovery rate, this builds an argument that we are no longer in an emergency.

Where there is risk with any procedure–especially experimental vaccines, by manufacturers exempt from liability–there must be a choice whether to consent to the procedure or not. Using a religious or medical exemption is an option for those who refuse to comply with universities (or employers, for that matter). Students may also choose to change schools or defer college until this climate of coercion blows over. 

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