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UMass campuses can require students to get Covid-19 shots if they want to attend classes this fall, judge rules

A federal judge today tossed a request from students at the University of Massachusetts campuses in Lowell and Boston to force the schools to let them attend classes without getting Covid-19 shots.

US District Court Judge Denise Casper said administrators at the two schools had shown a legally required "compelling interest" in requiring students to get shots as a condition of coming on campus next month. The single doctor the two students found who agreed with them the shots posed a risk did not negate evidence from federal and state health authorities that vaccinations are one of the country's best tools for bringing Covid-19 under control, especially among young people, who now represent its fastest growing group of victims, Casper said.

The schools also didn't deprive the two students of any rights to an education, even if one could argue one has such a right, because the students would not be expelled, only limited to online classes both campuses offer. That might not be the most ideal student experience - especially for the UMass Boston student on the school soccer team - but that hardly rises to the level of stomping on rights, Casper ruled.

She continued this ability to continue online means the school's actions are less severe than those allowed under the country's major vaccine case - a 1905 Supreme Court ruling involving a minister in Cambridge during a smallpox outbreak - which gave officials the right to take strict actions during public-health emergencies, such as requiring vaccinations or fining people who refuse.

Even with the Vaccine Policy, students who choose not to comply with may still take online classes at UMass, or defer their enrollment for a semester, not amounting to irreparable harm. Moreover, the balance of equities tips in Defendants’ favor given the strong public interest here that they are promoting—preventing further spread of COVID-19 on campus, a virus which has infected and taken the lives of thousands of Massachusetts residents. Bayley's Campground Inc. v. Mills, 463 F. Supp. 3d 22, 38 (D. Me. 2020), aff'd, 985 F.3d 153 (1st Cir. 2021) (concluding that public interest in state COVID-19 response is "enormous"). Plaintiffs' requested relief here would weaken the efforts of UMass to carry out those goals. Similarly, given the public health efforts promoted by the Vaccine Policy, enjoining the continuation of same is not in the public interest.

She also rejected the UMass Boston student's claim that she has a religious right to keep the vaccine from violating the temple that is her body. School officials at first rejected her religious exemption on the belief she is Catholic and the Catholic Church, starting at the top with the Pope, has come out in support of vaccines. She noted the school's acting chancellor gave her the chance to tell him she was not Catholic, but she never did.

She added that in their suit, the two "fail to show that the Vaccine Policy is not rationally related to a legitimate government end."

Casper's ruling comes two weeks after the US Supreme Court declined to hear a similar case in Indiana.

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Comments

And anyone who thinks they would rule any differently needs to learn what the term "decades of case law" means. College students at UMass campuses have been required for many years to have the basic panel of injections, plus meningitis if there is an outbreak. There is no reason this is any different. Many of us older graduate students in the early 2000s ran afoul of this as we didn't have reliable documentation - except I had been in the military and, well, they hit you with everything so UMass backed off. They even wanted 50 somethings to repeat everything.

My son was nearly refused a return to campus at UMass because he hadn't had his meningitis jab (he had a recent mono infection, hence the delay). After his doctor contacted the university he was given a week from the end of the wait time to get it done, and made the appointment to make it so.

In other words THIS IS NOT A NEW THING. All of these lawsuits are simply bullshit aimed at trying to end all the vaccine mandates.

MA won a supreme court case on that shit (vaccine mandate for smallpox for all Cambridge residents) in 1905. Ain't gonna happen.

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I remember returning to campus second semester in 1990 (?) and if you didn't have proof of a measles vaccine, there were people right there in the gym ready to give you one. You didn't leave the gym without a paper or a band aid on your arm.

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the manner with which you choose articulate yourself here is (and in most other posts) just so sad.

It really is crazy to me that you aren’t one of our BRIGHTEST CIVIC LEADERS!!

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Like too many facts for you and your opinions?

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Nice try but I won’t feed the animals

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I know you really, really, really want to eat the horse pills, but please don't.

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You should get one from the freezer for that place where reality hurts you so much.

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I'll join ya ;)

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But the covid vaccine IS A NEW THING! And the smallpox vaccine case you are referencing from 1905, wasn't a new thing, smallpox vaccine was being given for over 100 years by then. This vaccine is less than 1 year old.

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Keep trying. RNA vaccines have been out for decades. Also, billions have been treated with them by now and side effects are so rare despite the huge numbers that it is difficult to pin them on the vaccine.

Your life might go easier if you put all that creativity to use somewhere other than demonstrably false conspiracy musings.

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You're wrong both factually and legally. The lawyer for the students tried this and got shot down. I didn't get into it in my story, but let's jump in, shall we?

At least for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, no, they didn't just spring up a year ago. mRNA vaccines have, in fact, been in development for 20 years now and there was an mRNA vaccine developed specifically for another coronavirus, which never got used because, unlike Covid-19, that variant fizzled out long before becoming a global pandemic. All three vaccines were tested on tens of thousands of people in government-approved trials. Since their release, hundreds of millions of people have been vaccinated. There's plenty of evidence for their efficacy and yes, side effects (all vaccines have them).

Legally, though, none of this matters. First, as the UMass attorney (an assistant Massachusetts attorney general) noted, nothing in any law related to vaccines has any sort of time element in it - certainly nothing that requires ten decades of research before a vaccine can be approved.

Also, that 100-year thing comes from the Jacobson case, back in 1905. Back then, there was no FDA or CDC. Now we have two large government agencies whose duties include overseeing the safety and efficacy of drugs.

Continuing down the legal path, the judge in the case had to determine whether UMass had a legitimate reason for compelling students to get shots. Her decision illustrates her conclusion that it did - that we are in the middle of a pandemic involving a highly contagious, often fatal virus and that government experts at all levels had concluded that the vaccines are a key method for dealing with that crisis.

Plaintiffs' requested relief here would weaken the efforts of UMass to carry out those goals. Similarly, given the public health efforts promoted by the Vaccine Policy, enjoining the continuation of same is not in the public interest.

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I believe you may have replied to the wrong comment here...

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Was replying to the comment about how they shouldn't have to be forced to take a vaccine because we don't have 100 years of proof that it works.

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Blame the gnomes.

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Again, people who had Covid should not be forced to get the vaccine.

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But in any case, the Centers for Disease Control say you're wrong, but what do they know?

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https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/08/having-sars-cov-2-once-confers-m...

I want to be clear that I’m not anti vaccine. I had Covid last year and I can’t reiterate enough, it sucked. I encourage everyone who hasn’t had it to get vaccinated. I just don’t think there should be a one size fits all approach.

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There's a reason CDC recommends getting the vaccine even if you've had Covid due to studies that showed benefit. The natural immunity wanes over time plus isn't as strong as immunity from the vaccine. People can get Covid more than once, especially when it's a different strain.

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Israel the most vaccinated country on earth says otherwise.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/08/having-sars-cov-2-once-confers-m...

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The researchers also found that people who had SARS-CoV-2 previously and then received one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine were more highly protected against reinfection than those who once had the virus and were still unvaccinated.

This isn't the first study to find that. Sheesh. We've got a modern miracle here — take advantage!

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* that excluded a substantial number of people from vaccination because they weren't the *right* kind of person.

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If you have had the flu before and still get vaccines every year.

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.

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Good. Plus masks. But once they get on train God help them because MBTA does nothing about the maskless impaired.

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