Universities weigh requiring COVID-19 vaccine


INDIANAPOLIS — Colleges and universities can require students to return to class this Fall with proof they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. But public schools will be prohibited from doing the same.

Experts say under Indiana law, state or local units are prohibited from issuing or requiring immunization passports. The Indiana State Department of Health sets the policies regarding which vaccines are required, so public schools cannot require proof.

“The way that I read that law, it would stop schools if they wanted to require it,” Ross Silverman, Professor of Health Policy and Management at IU Fairbanks School of Public Health, said. “The state health department couldn’t make it a requirement because they’re prohibited.”

But colleges, like Indiana University’s Medical Response Team, are considering a vaccine requirement.

“The decision about whether or not to make it a requirement is something that our medical response team is considering strongly,” Spokesperson Chuck Carney said. “But they haven’t made that call yet. That’s something they’ll decide about here in the coming days.”

Public health professionals said they do not believe there is a desire to make the COVID-19 vaccine a widespread requirement.

“In most of these circumstances, we try to make it as easy as possible for people to say yes to getting the vaccine,” Silverman said. “But we don’t tend to put a hardline requirement in place for the vaccines.”

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