Rutgers University in New Jersey has become possibly the first college in the United States to require returning students to receive a COVID vaccine, Life Site News reports, raising questions on the legality of mandating vaccines approved with “emergency use authorizations.”
A recent letter to students by University President Jonathan Holloway demands that “all students planning to attend in the Fall 2021 semester must be fully vaccinated.”
“Proof of vaccination will be required for all students planning to attend this fall,” the letter states. “Any vaccine authorized for use in the U.S. (currently Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson) is acceptable.”
The letter adds students may request an exemption from the requirement for medical or religious reasons, though it is unclear how those exemptions are granted.
After citing statements from President Biden encouraging all adults to obtain at least one dose of the vaccination by early summer, the letter claims the requirement exemplifies “Rutgers’ commitment to health and safety for all members of its community.”
The letter provides a generic list of the “benefits” of obtaining the vaccination as it pertains to the Rutgers Community, including opportunities for events and activities on campus, face-to-face classes, dining and recreational options, interpersonal collaboration amongst the staff and students, and an overall “expedited return to pre-pandemic normal.”
And yet, despite the assurance that receiving the experimental vaccine will enable students to “return to pre-pandemic normal,” an examination of Rutger’s COVID-19 policies on their website reveals that students will still subjected to weekly testing and forced to wear face masks and socially distance. So how is that a return to the “pre-pandemic normal” and what exactly is the purpose of the vaccine requirement if it does not eliminate the need for these COVID policies?
Meanwhile, pre-empting the likelihood that the vaccine requirement will provoke a barrage of questions from concerned students and parents, including those related to the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, the letter directs students to a long list of FAQs. Sadly, the answers could easily have been written by the vaccine manufacturers’ marketing departments — they are that biased in favor of the vaccines.
One such question reads, “Can Rutgers mandate vaccines that are currently only subject to Emergency Use Authorizations?” The answer reads, “The university’s position on vaccines is consistent with the legal authority supporting this policy, which has been thoroughly reviewed by our Office of General Counsel.”
Another “question” is a statement of concern that the vaccines “have not been tested enough,” to which the answer replies, “To date, the FDA has authorized three vaccines for emergency use in the United States; these vaccines also have been recommended for use by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.”
Another question asks, “Will the COVID-19 vaccine be safe and effective?” The answer: “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for making sure that, just like any medications, any FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.”
But this is, of course, not truthful. The Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccinations with “emergency use authorizations,” which means they are still in trial phases and are not yet qualified for licensing from the FDA. The FDA states that vaccines approved this way are “investigational” and requires that “promotional material relating to the COVID-19 Vaccine clearly and conspicuously … state that this product has not been approved or licensed by the FDA, but has been authorized for emergency use by FDA.”
The FDA states that individuals who receive the vaccines are required to be informed of the “significant known and potential benefits and risks of such use, and of the extent to which such benefits and risks are unknown.”
It is also dishonest to ignore the growing evidence that the COVID vaccines have resulted in serious injuries and even death. Life Site News reports the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) already shows more than 44,000 reports of injury and death after use of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines.
Furthermore, the legality of any COVID-19 vaccine mandate is likely to be challenged so long as the vaccines are unlicensed by the FDA. Under federal law, manufacturers of products approved for emergency use are required to provide “appropriate conditions designed to ensure that individuals to whom the product is administered are informed … of the option to accept or refuse administration of the product, of the consequences, if any, of refusing administration of the product, and of the alternatives to the product that are available and of their benefits and risks.”
The CDC said as much in an August summary report for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices: “Under an EUA, vaccines are not allowed to be mandatory.”
The FDA has also said the vaccines must be voluntary. “For years, the FDA took the position that an EUA product cannot be mandated, this is not a new position, they’ve held it for years,” said Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a professor at The University of California Hastings College of the Law. It is unclear whether this applies to colleges and universities, however, according to Reiss.
It’s also worth noting that the scientific community is not in complete agreement on the need for widespread administering of COVID vaccines. Life Site News reported in November that Dr. Mike Yeadon, former vice president and chief scientist at Pfizer, rejected the notion it was necessary for COVID-19.
In a piece written for Britain’s Lockdown Sceptics, Yeadon wrote there was “absolutely no need for vaccines to extinguish the pandemic.… You do not vaccinate people who aren’t at risk from a disease.”
Dr. Yeadon was especially concerned about widespread use of untested vaccines on people who otherwise could tolerate COVID-19. “You also don’t set about planning to vaccinate millions of fit and healthy people with a vaccine that hasn’t been extensively tested on humans,” he said.
Still, it seems Rutgers University has drawn a line in the sand on this one. In several of the FAQs listed on the site, the response consistently states that Rutgers has purposely made this announcement early “so that students can make their decisions about attendance before enrolling or paying tuition.”
In other words, like it or leave it.
“The university is comfortable with the legal authority supporting this policy, which has been thoroughly reviewed by our Office of General Counsel,” Rutgers spokesperson Dory Devlin told Politico in an e-mail.
Many other schools remain unsure that such a policy could withstand legal objections. The California State University system has already announced that the emergency use status of the COVID vaccines means they cannot be required, Market Watch reports. The University of Oklahoma has issued a similar statement.
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