Headlines indicate Indiana students sue over COVID-19 vaccine requirement

Even if the institution is a state university, doesn't every educational institution have the responsibility and authority to set vaccination policy? Would this not be based on precedent?

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    @ColleenV I'm not sure it's correct to say that "the" COVID vaccine is still experimental, but even if it is, what law makes that vaccine different from the usual public school vaccination requirements?
    – bdb484
    Jun 22, 2021 at 20:26
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    Yes, every drug is "potentially unsafe for certain as-of-yet-unknown people to take," so that assertion doesn't really tell us much. What law makes COVID vaccines different from the usual public school vaccination requirements?
    – bdb484
    Jun 23, 2021 at 6:02
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    Emergency use approval by the FDA is an alternative form of approval that speeds up the production of a vaccine. Ordinarily, a vaccine cannot be produced until after approval. During a public health emergency, emergency use approval can be given which allows the manufacture of the vaccine at the same time the clinical trials are being conducted. The approved vaccine is no less safe. Vaccine can be distributed immediately. The review and approval standards are the same. The approved vaccines are not 'experimental'. They are now approved as both effective and safe. Jun 24, 2021 at 3:14

2 Answers 2


It looks like one of the arguments raised by plaintiffs is that the policy violates Indiana's anti-vaccine-passport law, HB 1405 (see page 10 of the full text), which was just signed into law in late April 2021. Obviously previous precedent would not have taken this law into account, and it is possible that IU's policy, even if it had been upheld as legal under previous law, may be in violation of this new law. The courts will have to decide anew.

Part of the controversy is that the new law only forbids "the state or a local unit" from requiring "immunization passports". According to https://wgntv.com/news/what-does-indianas-new-vaccine-passport-law-do/, part of IU's argument is that they are neither the state nor a local unit, that such wording is generally understood in Indiana law to not include public universities, and that the legislature deliberately chose that wording in order to exclude public universities.


The complaint does not allege that the university lacks authority to mandate vaccinations, though it raises many other legal objections. The university has a mandate to require proof of immunization via IC 21-40-5-3 for specific diseases (covid is not on the list). IC 21-40-3-1 also says that "The board of trustees of a state educational institution may set the conditions and standards of admission of students upon criteria that are in the best interests of the state and the state educational institution", which is part of the legislative authorization hook that could allows such a requirement.

An obligation to require proof of immunity would have to come from a legislative act, such as as the diphtheria vaccination mandate (a university has no alternative). The option to require vaccination follows from the general powers of the IU Board of Trustees (who then empower the president of the university...). The prohibition of such a requirement would be based on other law, which is the legal subject of the suit.

  • I"m not sure that IC 21-40-3-1 is relevant here, as the policy is also supposed to apply to continuing students who have already been admitted. Jun 22, 2021 at 23:08

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