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GOP state representatives urge Holcomb to remove IU vaccination requirement

LATEST: Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita on Wednesday issued an official opinion that said Indiana University’s vaccination requirement violates a new state law “by requiring its students, faculty, and staff to show proof of immunization as a condition of continued attendance or employment.” However, his opinion did not indicate any next steps to be taken for the violation of the new state law.


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — State representatives are encouraging Gov. Eric Holcomb to prohibit state universities from requiring students and staff to be fully vaccinated when school begins in the fall.

State Rep. Jim Lucas on Tuesday submitted a letter to Holcomb signed by 18 other Republican representatives.

“In light of a recent announcement from Indiana University (IU) regarding mandating students accept the COVID-19 vaccine, a vaccine that does not have full FDA approval, we urge you to use your executive authority to prohibit state universities from mandating such a requirement,” the letter begins.

It’s all the buzz in Bloomington, students on campus Tuesday had mixed reviews about the rules. Some said they’ll do whatever it takes to have a more normal semester, others said the policy was a violation of their rights.

“You know it should be up to somebody’s own decision. Not somebody higher up or anybody else saying it,” said student Conor McGee.

“IU is not taking anybody’s rights away by doing so because you are choosing to go to school and it’s not like forcing anybody to do anything inside their own home or anything like that,” said student Peyton Lavielle.

An IU spokesperson provided the following response to the letter:

Indiana University shares the same goal as our faculty, staff, and students in seeking a return to a more normal fall semester, with full attendance at in-person classes, athletic and other events, and social activities without masking and social distancing.  If we hope to do this while continuing to avoid large outbreaks, the science is clear that we need a much higher rate of immunity within our IU community. The vaccine is the only way to make sure that happens by the time students return. The policy mandating the vaccine reiterates that we are not requiring a vaccine “passport”; with everyone vaccinated, that would be unnecessary.

HB1405 that passed the Indiana General Assembly’s recently-concluded session did not include public universities in its definition of governmental entities. As co-author on the Indiana vaccine passport ban legislation, State Rep. Chris Campbell noted, state universities and colleges are not covered under the bill. She added that “they know what they need in their environment to keep others safe.”

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. We will continue to follow Indiana law and provide religious and medical exemptions as warranted, in keeping with policy for the six other vaccinations required by state law on our campuses.

Our focus remains on the safety and wellbeing of our IU community.

Chuck Carney, IU director of media relations

The Indiana Democratic Party also released a statement:

“It’s disappointing – yet not surprising – to hear the Indiana Republican Party would rather place politics above the health and safety of a community — mostly composed of young people. These unnecessary risks work against the recommendations provided by local and university officials. Sadly, it appears Indiana Republicans would rather focus on shallow rhetoric than deliver common-sense solutions.”

Drew Anderson, Indiana Democratic Party spokesperson