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LSU: Mandatory COVID vaccine for students unlikely, alternatives being considered

4 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago Tuesday, June 01 2021 Jun 1, 2021 June 01, 2021 1:00 PM June 01, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ
By: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - LSU officials do not see a clear way to mandate COVID vaccines for its campus, the university said in a new statement Tuesday (June 1) afternoon.

Faculty and student government groups had pushed the university to mandate coronavirus vaccines for students.  Interim President Tom Galligan had said he would research the request but saw a difficult legal path forward.

"We are continuing to review the legal aspects of a mandatory vaccination, and we're also going to look at all the alternatives that were proposed. We're going to analyze those alternatives," Galligan previously told WBRZ.

The Louisiana Attorney General wrote to Galligan this week, expressing concern over mandated COVID vaccines and said doing so would be a violation of law.

Later, LSU said it had considered options but did not "believe we will be able to mandate vaccines on campus."

A spokesperson told WBRZ, however, the university is looking at other options and alternatives but still encouraged those working or studying at LSU to get vaccinated.  

As of the end of May, 77% of LSU employees were vaccinated.

"Since other vaccines are required, I think it would be smart to make the COVID vaccine required," said LSU student Phoenix Tate in a previous WBRZ story.

"I think it should be somebody's decision, but I do think it's really important to get your vaccine," said LSU student, Lauren Reedy.

Faculty previously voted for LSU to create vaccine incentives, a universal mask mandate, and to restore social distancing measures. Much of these decisions could be up to the newly hired university president who starts in July, although the university announced at the end of May, it was keeping its mask mandate in place for now.

Attorney General Jeff Landry said state and federal law protects employees and students from being forced into accepting a vaccine to be on campus.

“LSU employees and students are protected against mandated COVID vaccines [under a law] that [emergency use authorization] products require (as a condition of emergency approval) that people have ‘the option to accept or refuse administration of the product,’” Landry wrote to Galligan.

The “’FDA has an obligation to ensure that recipients of the vaccine under an EUA are informed… that they have the option to accept or refuse the vaccine," Landry wrote.  He continued, "Louisiana law recognizes the right of students to be free from ‘creed’ discrimination, which includes discrimination based on religious beliefs and nonreligious beliefs."

“Louisiana requires postsecondary institutions to recognize religious and other personal reasons as exemptions to vaccine mandates," he added. 

Read the letter here.

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