In response to IU announcing COVID-19 vaccines will be required for all students, faculty and staff in the fall, 19 Indiana legislators wrote a letter Tuesday asking Governor Eric Holcomb to “prohibit state universities from mandating vaccines that do not have full FDA approval.”
Less than a third of the House Republican caucus signed the letter. Gov. Holcomb is currently in Israel and has not yet commented on the letter.
In addition to the letter, two representatives said the mandate violates recently passed House Bill 1405, which prohibits state and local governmental entities from requiring an “immunization passport.”
In a statement, IU said the requirement is not a vaccine “passport” and the language of the bill did not include public universities in its definition of government entities. The vaccination requirement will allow the university to safely end restrictions such as masking and physical distancing, according to IU. Details about exemptions will be announced by June 15, but exemptions will be limited.
“We are confident this is the best policy for our campuses, utilizing vaccines that are authorized by the WHO, the FDA and a federal Scientific Advisory panel under Emergency Use Authorization. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also confirmed in guidance that employers can require employees be vaccinated,” the statement reads.
According to the statement, IU will continue to follow Indiana law and provide religious and medical exemptions in line with policies for six other vaccinations required by state law on IU campuses. The COVID-19 vaccination is not required by state law.
The letter came four days after IU announced the COVID-19 vaccine will be required beginning during the fall 2021 semester.
Some members of the IU community, who are not convinced the vaccine is safe, have started online petitions protesting IU’s requirement of the vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and clinical trials with tens of thousands of participants, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.