In March, Rutgers University announced it would require all students returning to campus in the fall to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Since then, roughly 450 U.S. colleges and universities have also announced that they too will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for returning students, including faculty and staff. While public health and COVID-19 vaccination proponents champion such measures, opponents say the mandates are unnecessary, potentially harmful, and overstep the bounds of health privacy and medical decision-making. Opponents further argue that COVID-19 vaccine mandates are legally questionable, given that the vaccines have only received emergency use authorization (EUA), and do not, at present, have full FDA approval. In addition to disagreements over privacy and ethics, a growing flurry of state-mandated legislation has placed additional pressure on public colleges and universities looking to impose broad institutional measures.
This discussion takes a deep dive into the legal complexities and ethical concerns surrounding this controversial and increasingly divisive issue. Key discussion points include:
- The scope and limits of mandating a vaccine only approved for EUA
- Are college imposed covid-19 vaccine mandates necessary or do they go too far?
- Individual health privacy and autonomy versus public health
- A state-by-state look at laws impacting college imposed covid-19 vaccination mandates
- Understanding the EEOC guidance
- Why students only, but not faculty and staff, for some colleges?
- Ethical considerations
- Grounds for exemption by state
- Is there a cultural rift forming between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals?
- Pending legislation and review of prominent litigation to date
Michael Ulrich, Assistant Professor of Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights, Boston University School of Public Health & School of Law
L. Syd M Johnson, Associate Professor, Ethics Consultant Center for Bioethics & Humanities, Upstate Medical University
Aaron Kheriaty, Director, Medical Ethics Program & Professor, Psychiatry & Human Behavior, University of California, Irvine School of Medicine
Nathan Nobis, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Morehouse College
Aaron Siri, Managing Partner, Siri & Glimstad LLP