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An attorney for Children’s Health Defense (CHD) and a group of students who sued Rutgers University over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate said he will appeal last week’s decision by a federal judge in New Jersey to dismiss the suit.
U.S. District Judge Zahid N. Quraishi said he accepted Rutgers’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit, finding that the institution was within its legal rights to implement the policy in the name of protecting the student body and wider community.
The lawsuit was filed Aug. 16, 2021, against the university, its president, board of trustees and others by CHD and 18 Rutgers students. Six of the students remained anonymous in the complaint.
On Aug. 30, 2021, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against the university, which was rejected.
The university’s policy resulted in the accounts of unvaccinated students being blocked, barring them from enrollment in classes. This block was reportedly applied even to the students who were exclusively enrolled in remote classes, despite the express terms of Rutgers’ policy, which exempts “fully remote” students from the mandate.
Remarking on the district judge’s decision, Julio C. Gomez, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, highlighted the right to informed consent and to refuse medical treatment, stating:
“We all have a fundamental right to informed consent and to refuse unwanted medical treatment, particularly jabs with experimental vaccines which are not effective at preventing infection or transmission of COVID-19 and were never proven safe.
“Plaintiffs are disappointed that the court ignored that right, ignored the allegations in the complaint that COVID vaccines do not work and are not safe, and ignored the real-world experience we now possess that vaccines did nothing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and have injured thousands of people.”
Gomez said institutions of higher education do not have the authority to issue vaccine mandates. He also commented on Rutgers’ conflict of interest, as alleged in the lawsuit:
“Colleges and universities do not and should not possess the legal authority to mandate experimental vaccines, especially those colleges and universities like Rutgers that have financial skin in the game and are working with the vaccine manufacturers to develop and test these experimental products with no liability and no accountability.”
The lawsuit alleged the university’s policy was illegal and unconstitutional, violated students’ right to informed consent and to refuse unwanted medical treatments and also constituted a breach of contract because Rutgers in January 2021 had assured its student body that COVID-19 vaccines would not be required in order to enroll.
The lawsuit also accused Rutgers of having a conflict of interest because the university was working with Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to study and develop the vaccines in clinical trials.
Rutgers would stand to benefit financially if more people were required to take the vaccines, the plaintiffs alleged.
At the time, Mary Holland, CHD president and general counsel, argued the “mandate undermines our Constitution and Bill of Rights by denying students the freedom to make their own medical decisions.”
Peter Cordi, one of the Rutgers students who was a party to the lawsuit, said after the lawsuit was filed that it was “incredibly unnerving” that the university would prioritize “greed and ties to Big Pharma … over our safety and free will.”
Vaccine requirements ‘well established in the law,’ court says
In his opinion, Judge Quraishi rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that there is no New Jersey state statute that allows Rutgers to impose a vaccination requirement.
Instead, Quraishi referred to state statutes and regulations that he argued gave Rutgers the legal right to request proof of vaccination from students and to mandate vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a committee within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Quraishi further stated that vaccination requirements are “well established in the law, with approval from the United States and New Jersey Supreme Courts.”
“Thus, by requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a condition to enrollment — less exemptions — Rutgers is not only looking at the best interests of its student population but is also required to do so by state law.
“Rutgers undoubtedly has a legitimate interest in protecting the members of its broad community from a potentially deadly disease and in trying to prevent more of the massive disruptions that COVID-19 caused for three semesters prior to Fall 2021.”
According to Quraishi, the existing medical and religious exemptions made available to students under Rutgers’ policy were sufficient grounds to reject the plaintiffs’ argument that the vaccine mandate was coercive, as the policy “simply requires students to either accept the COVID-19 vaccine or satisfy one of the policy’s exemptions.”
As a result, Quraishi said, “Students can thus get vaccinated, prove that they are exempted, or apply elsewhere,” adding that in the case of the student plaintiffs, all but one ultimately received a religious exemption, making their claims moot as they “have not suffered any actual or imminent injury and instead base their claims on their fear of future potential harm.”
Evidence against COVID vaccines for young, healthy students piles up
In recent weeks, a growing body of evidence has exposed the ineffectiveness — and potential dangers — of COVID-19 vaccines for young adults in particular, while the narrative in favor of COVID-19 vaccine mandates has dissipated in the face of evidence demonstrating that they do not prevent infection or transmission.
For instance, a 50-page preprint study published in late August on The Social Science Research Network analyzed CDC and industry data on adverse effects following COVID-19 vaccination, concluding that mandating boosters in college students may cause between 18 and 98 actual serious adverse events for each COVID-19 infection-related hospitalization theoretically prevented.
In a recent CNN interview, Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration vaccine advisory committee, said, “A healthy young person is unlikely to benefit from a booster dose … If there’s not clear evidence of benefit, then it’s not fair to ask people to take a risk.”
FDA advisor and vaccine maker Paul Offit: “A healthy young person is unlikely to benefit from a booster dose… If there’s not clear evidence of benefit, then it’s not fair to ask people to take a risk.” pic.twitter.com/SgBp5WZbMS
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) September 24, 2022
As previously reported by The Defender, the British Office for National Statistics issued a report in July showing the mortality rates per 100,000 are consistently lowest among the unvaccinated, in all age groups.
According to the results of this study, in the 18 to 39 age group — presumably encompassing most college and university students — the unvaccinated had a mortality rate of 14.1 per 100,000 during the month of May, while those who had received at least one dose had a mortality rate of 42.6 per 100,000.
And as recently revealed by The Defender, eminent U.K. cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra, who had previously promoted the COVID-19 vaccines on British television, published a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Insulin Resistance calling for the immediate end of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the “pandemic of misinformation on COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.”
Last month, the CDC walked back its vaccine and COVID-19-related guidance, while an increasing number of employers have begun to withdraw or roll back their own mandates.
Fewer colleges and universities mandating COVID vaccine for students
In light of the latest science on the COVID-19 vaccines’ inefficacy and potential risks, how can colleges and universities maintain vaccine mandates, particularly for healthy students?
At one time, nearly 4,000 such institutions had COVID-19 vaccine mandates in place. However, data as of early September 2022 reveals this number has significantly dwindled.
According to a database maintained by bestcolleges.com, approximately 577 colleges and universities and university systems — and more than 800 separate campuses — still mandate the primary two-dose series of COVID-19 vaccination for students.
This list includes many prominent universities, including all Ivy League institutions, and schools such as Emory, Georgetown, New York University, Tulane, the University of Chicago, University of Southern California and major state public university systems, such as the State University of New York (SUNY) and the University of California and California State University systems.
SUNY, for instance, required students to be fully vaccinated with the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines for the fall 2022 semester, while “boosters are strongly encouraged.”
Similar policies are in place for the City University of New York system and the University of Maine system.
Some colleges and universities, however, have taken the additional step of also requiring their students receive booster doses — although the definition of “booster” appears to vary.
According to bestcolleges.com, nearly 300 colleges and university systems require boosters for students for the fall 2022 semester.
Booster policies vary across institutions. For instance, at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, students are required to receive the new bivalent booster once it becomes available, even if they have already received a previous booster shot.
At Minnesota’s St. Olaf College, however, either the original or updated booster fulfills that institution’s policies, while at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, students are allowed to sign a “COVID-19 Booster Waiver,” postponing the booster requirement until the bivalent booster becomes available.
Still, the numbers indicate most colleges and universities that had initially implemented COVID-19 vaccine mandates have since rescinded them.
This trend was illustrated in recent remarks made to bestcollege.com by Claudia Trevor-Wright, project director for the American College Health Association’s Campus COVID-19 Vaccination and Mitigation Initiative.
Trevor-Wright described vaccine mandates as a “highly individualized institutional decision” that must be taken in the context of a number of factors, ranging from federal guidance, to local regulations, to public sentiment.
“It’s not clear … whether we’re going to see new requirements in place,” she said, adding, “There [are] a lot of individualized approaches to this.”
In 11 states — Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming — no universities are enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates. State regulations have been a significant factor in this regard.
For example, Grinnell College in Iowa implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in 2021, and intended to continue it for the fall 2022 semester. But the college was forced to drop this policy, after Iowa legislators in July 2022 voted to ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates statewide.
In Illinois, however, close to 60 colleges and universities continue to maintain their own vaccine requirements, even though Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced in July 2022 that the statewide vaccine mandate for college students and staff would be restricted.