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College Student Defense

Will You Have to Be Vaccinated to Stay on Campus or Participate in Campus Activities?

By August 30, 2021September 25th, 2023No Comments

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:

  • Headache
  • Pain at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • 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.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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