A number of companies and educational institutions have required employees and students to get the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. However, some students and staff members have filed lawsuits challenging these mandates. The lawsuits argued that COVID-19 vaccines should not be mandatory as they have not been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
According to an article by Children’s Health Defense (CHD), mandating the use of products approved under an emergency use authorization (EUA) violates federal law. It added that all COVID-19 vaccines, COVID-19 tests and masks are only permitted for emergency use and their long-term safety and efficacy have not been proven. EUA products are considered experimental by definition, which requires people to be given the right to turn them down.
CHD President and General Counsel Mary Holland and attorney Greg Glaser earlier stated that federal law prohibits employers from mandating all COVID-19 products under EUA. They wrote: “If a vaccine has been issued EUA by the FDA, it is not fully licensed and must be voluntary. A private party – such as an employer, school or hospital – cannot circumvent the EUA law, which prohibits mandates.”
In one instance, eight students from Indiana University (IU) sued the institution over its policy requiring students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the students’ June 21 lawsuit, the mandate violated the Fourteenth Amendment by infringing on the “right of personal autonomy and bodily integrity” and the “right to reject medical treatment.” It also mentioned that the IU vaccination mandate flouted a new state law banning COVID-19 vaccine passports.
According to the university’s website, “strong consequences” await those refusing to get vaccinated. Students who turn down the COVID-19 vaccine will have their class registration canceled, be barred from accessing campus facilities and systems and will be prohibited from joining on-campus activities. Meanwhile, faculty and staff members who turn down the vaccine will no longer be allowed to remain employed with the university, the website said.
In spite of the lawsuit against it, the university remained adamant and said it will not change its policy. IU spokesman Chuck Carney said in a statement: “The requirement for all [IU] students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated before the return to school in August remains in place. As part of IU’s response to the ongoing pandemic, the vaccine mandate is helping to support a return to safe and more normal operations this fall.”
Over at the East Coast, students and parents protested against a New Jersey university’s mandatory vaccination order. An Epoch Times article reported that students and parents gathered on May 21 to protest Rutgers University‘s COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
Turning Point USA, Young Americans for Liberty and medical freedom advocacy group NJ Stands Up organized the protest. Some Republican state lawmakers who attended the rally exhorted the participants to stand up and fight for their health freedom.
Rutgers ordered all students enrolled for in-person classes during the fall semester to get vaccinated against COVID-19 back in March. However, the mandate also allowed for exemptions on medical or religious grounds. Rutgers students enrolled in fully remote online programs are not required to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, Rutgers spokeswoman Dory Devlin told Epoch Times in an email that its position on vaccines aligns with “the legal authority supporting this policy.” She added: “We are committed to creating a safe campus environment in fall 2021. [To] support the health and safety for all members of the Rutgers community, the university has updated existing immunization requirements for students to include the COVID-19 vaccine.”
In another incident, 117 employees of the Houston Methodist hospital system in Texas filed a lawsuit challenging its mandatory vaccine rule. The May 28 lawsuit accused the hospital system of “illegally requiring its employees to be injected with an experimental vaccine.” It added that the hospital is forcing staff members to be “human guinea pigs” as a condition for continued employment.
The lawsuit accused Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom of threatening to terminate 26,000 staff members unless they get vaccinated before June 7. The suit’s lead plaintiff and registered nurse Jennifer Bridges said: “I’m totally prepared to get fired if I have to. We will hold [Houston Methodist] accountable for what they’re doing,” she said.
However, Reuters reported that a U.S. federal judge dismissed the employees’ lawsuit. In her five-page decision issued on June 12, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes upheld Houston Methodist’s mandatory vaccination rule as “a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer.” She wrote: “[Houston Methodist] is trying to do [its] business of saving lives without giving them … COVID-19.”
Furthermore, the magistrate did not find merit in Bridges’s argument. According to Hughes, Texas law only protected employees from termination for refusing to commit an illegal act and that the vaccine requirement aligned with public policy. “Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine. However, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else,” the magistrate wrote.