Nurse gives students a vaccination in school during coronavirus pandemic

Court of Appeals Denies Students’ Request to Prevent Indiana University from Implementing Its COVID -19 Vaccination Policy

Aug 3, 2021

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On August 2, 2021, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal district court’s decision denying eight students’ request to enjoin Indiana University (the “University”) from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations of all students taking in-person classes. In a 4-page decision, the Court relied, in part, on a 1905 Supreme Court decision, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, in denying the injunction.  In Jacobson, the Supreme Court upheld a state’s requirement that all members of the public be vaccinated against smallpox. The Court stated that the University case is even easier to decide because, unlike Jacobson, the University’s vaccination requirement has exceptions for religious and medical reasons, and it does not require every adult member of the state to be vaccinated. “People who do not want to be vaccinated may go elsewhere.” The Court concluded that if, as a condition of higher education, an individual must surrender property (tuition and fees) and submit to instructions (First Amendment limitations) “it is hard to see a greater problem with medical conditions that help all students remain safe when learning.”

With the denial of the student’s injunction, it is likely that the University’s vaccination requirement will be implemented at the beginning of the Fall 2021 Semester. The student’s underlying lawsuit, however, can still proceed. Robbins Schwartz will continue to provide updates on this case.