Like many other institutions in the United States, colleges are hopeful for a return to normalcy with widespread COVID -19 vaccination among their students and staff.
Since the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines earlier in the year, some schools have adopted vaccine mandates that allow only fully vaccinated students to attend in-person classes and participate in campus activities.
Almost all colleges and universities in or near the District of Columbia will require that students be fully vaccinated in order to remain on campus, with one exception. Read on to learn how these mandates could affect you or your student.
Vaccine Mandate at D.C. Schools
It is easy to understand why so many U.S. colleges are adopting vaccine mandates. With more than 600,000 deaths related to COVID -19 in the United States alone, almost every college administration is very apprehensive about potential outbreaks at their institution.
Most college administrators feel that the benefits of a vaccine mandate will outweigh the legal challenges that they could face from disgruntled students or staff.
Among the most obvious legal challenges is the question of whether colleges can require a vaccination. There are precedents that include allowing states to mandate smallpox inoculations in order to protect the welfare of the public.
This power has expanded in subsequent years. All 50 states now require grade school children to be vaccinated against an array of diseases. Furthermore, some colleges have requirements for seasonal influenza shots.
However, it should be noted that these vaccines have been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration, while all of the currently available COVID -19 vaccines only have Emergency Use Authorization. Under an EUA, recipients have the right to refuse a vaccine. This would, of course, change if these vaccines earned full FDA approval, which many are progressing towards.
As of July, these 7 universities have officially announced a vaccine mandate for Fall 2021:
- American University
- Gallaudet University
- George Washington University
- Georgetown University
- Howard University
- Trinity Washington University
- University of the District of Columbia
Vaccine Mandate Issues
Many of the colleges that are implementing a vaccine mandate will allow students or faculty an exemption on medical or religious grounds. This is consistent with the rest of the District of Columbia, which allows similar exemptions for K-12 students who refuse non-COVID-19 vaccines.
If you are seeking a COVID-19 vaccine exemption, you should inquire with your health officials what the specific religious or medical criteria are for eligibility. You should also ask about potential restrictions like campus or classroom access if you are not vaccinated.
Another looming legal issue is proof of vaccination. There is no universal vaccine passport in the U.S., so each school will have to develop its own authentication process. This is further complicated by the fact that some states like Texas, Florida and Arizona prohibit proof of vaccination by many public and private institutions.
Finally, there is the issue of vaccine safety. It has been widely reported that common side effects of the COVID -19 vaccine include:
- Pain at the injection site
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
If you have any questions about these vaccine mandates, or you are being accused of a COVID -19 violation by your university, we recommend you contact us for a paid consultation.
Get Help for Your COVID-19 Legal Issue
Given the rapidly evolving nature of the public health situation, it is easy to become confused and violate a school’s COVID -19 policy. If you are accused of violating your school’s COVID -19 policies, DC Student Defense can help. Contact us to schedule a paid consultation.
These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.