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Thousands sign petition requesting Indiana University retract vaccine mandate

As of Monday there were nearly 4,000 signatures.
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Posted at 7:18 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 12:23:59-04

BLOOMINGTON — Students are staff members are speaking out after Indiana University announced Friday they would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination before the upcoming school year.

“My son sent the email to me and he was panicked and freaked out,” Christiane Nash said.

Nash’s son is going to be a senior at Indiana University in the fall. She said he no longer wants to go back to school.

“He has one year left, you know,” Nash said as she broke down.

Nash is one of nearly 4,000 people who have signed a petition on Change.org requesting the university retract the mandate.

“I feel so bad for the faculty, people who have been working there for 20 years may get fired because they don’t get the vaccination,” Nash said.

A very scary reality for one staff member who spoke to WRTV. The employee, who has worked for the university for more than a decade, asked to stay anonymous for fear she may lose her job.

“We didn’t have any prior notice that this was going to be a requirement for employment or returning to campus as a student or faculty member so it was very shocking,” the staff member said.

They also felt the tone of the email sent to students, staff and faculty was very threatening.

“'If you don’t get this you’re going to lose your job or you can’t be a student here.' In over 10 years of working for the university, I can’t remember anything coming from that level that was that stern,” theu said.

The staff member and Nash both have similar feelings about why they chose, or have decided with their family, not to get a COVID-19 vaccine yet. They are both concerned since the vaccines have only been given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

The employee says they are not yet looking for another job but is really weighing their options. While they feel strongly about not getting the vaccine just yet, they also said they cannot afford to be unemployed.

Lawmakers are also weighing in on the mandate, including State Representatives John Jacob and Curt Nisly, who posted a joint statement on Facebook.

Indiana University issued the following statement in response to lawmakers regarding the legality of the vaccine requirement:

Indiana University shares the same goal as our faculty, staff, and students in seeking a return to a more normal fall semester, with full attendance at in-person classes, athletic and other events, and social activities without masking and social distancing. If we hope to do this while continuing to avoid large outbreaks, the science is clear that we need a much higher rate of immunity within our IU community. The vaccine is the only way to make sure that happens by the time students return. The policy mandating the vaccine reiterates that we are not requiring a vaccine “passport”; with everyone vaccinated, that would be unnecessary.

HB1405 that passed the Indiana General Assembly’s recently-concluded session did not include public universities in its definition of governmental entities. As co-author on the Indiana vaccine passport ban legislation, State Rep. Chris Campbell noted, state universities and colleges are not covered under the bill. She added that “they know what they need in their environment to keep others safe.”

We are confident this is the best policy for our campuses, utilizing vaccines that are authorized by the WHO, the FDA and a federal Scientific Advisory panel under Emergency Use Authorization. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also confirmed in guidance that employers can require employees be vaccinated. We will continue to follow Indiana law and provide religious and medical exemptions as warranted, in keeping with policy for the six other vaccinations required by state law on our campuses.

Our focus remains on the safety and wellbeing of our IU community.

To make a vaccination appointment in Indiana, visit ourshot.in.gov or call 211. Currently, anyone 12 and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination in Indiana. Those under the age of 18 are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.