Sen. Warren: Public Schools and Colleges ‘Have a Right’ to Mandate COVID Vaccine for Their Students

By Julia Johnson | July 16, 2021 | 11:18am EDT
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)    (Getty Images)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) (Getty Images)

(CNS News) -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said public schools and colleges “have a right and a responsibility” to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, when questioned on the subject.

At the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, CNS News asked the senator, “Should public schools and colleges be able to mandate that students be vaccinated for Covid-19?”

“I think they have a right and a responsibility to ensure the safety of the people on their campuses and that has traditionally been the case,” said Warren.

“They have long required vaccinations for other illnesses and threats, and I believe they have the right to do that with Covid,” she continued. 

A number of universities have announced their plans to require student vaccinations for the upcoming school year, including Virginia Tech and The University of Colorado. They allow exemptions based on medical condition or religious beliefs.

However, according to Virginia Tech’s Frequently Asked Questions, the religious exemption form must be notarized and Virginia’s state health commissioner reserves the right to exclude you from university activity, if there are any perceived emergencies. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that K-12 schools highly encourage vaccinations, yet does not suggest mandates. They also note, “Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time,” and highlight alternate prevention strategies. 

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Despite this, some health officials are pushing for states and school districts to require the COVID vaccination for school children returning in the fall.

Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said, "Anytime there's legislation that potentially prohibits the health department from trying to prevent the spread of disease, even if it's putting limits on masks or mandates on vaccination, then it's another step that local health departments would have to go through should there be an outbreak or a rise in cases," reported CNN

According to CNN, 34 states had introduced legislation seeking to limit vaccine requirements as of June 22. Six of the proposed bills include language regarding education or schools. 

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