Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry threatens to sue the state’s newest medical school over its coronavirus vaccine policies after three students complained they suffered retaliation for refusing to do so vaccinate, according to NOLA.com.
Landry sent a letter July 20 to the administrators of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, known as VCOM, in Monroe, accusing them of taking a “wrong path” in demanding that students be given a vaccine.
This is Landry’s latest move against coronavirus vaccine warrants across the state, they say.
He wrote to LSU officials in late May requesting a “written response from LSU that no vaccine warrant will be issued.”
There is an overwhelming consensus among medical providers that injections are safe, effective and essential in reducing cases and deaths from the coronavirus, according to the article.
Louisiana educational institutions are wondering if they can – and should – impose the vaccine before the fall semester.
While cases of the corona virus in Louisiana declined once vaccines became widely available this spring, infections rose again this summer among the unvaccinated, they say.
So far, several private universities have announced plans to make the vaccine mandatory for the fall, including Tulane, Loyola, Dillard and Xavier.
VCOM is also a private institution, but VCOM’s Louisiana branch is on the Louisiana Public University campus at Monroe, and the medical school has several agreements with the University of Louisiana system, including reserving places for interviews in a medical school for students of the UL system. campus.
Landry’s letter to VCOM officials says their “collaborative relationship” with the state means VCOM can’t just do what it wants, they say.
He wrote that making COVID vaccines mandatory is “incompatible with state and federal laws besides being premature” because vaccines are always approved through emergency use authorization rather than through the full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
The distinction is important in terms of vaccine requirement, they say.
Louisiana’s largest hospital system general manager Ochsner said this week he was concerned about legal action against him if Ochsner demanded that employees receive vaccines while they are still under authorization to use the drug. ’emergency.
“We plan to switch to mandatory vaccines when they are withdrawn (emergency use authorization),” Ochsner CEO Warner Thomas said.
Landry sent a copy of his letter to VCOM to several officials, including UL System President Jim Henderson.
Henderson said the advice on emergency use authorization was informative.
He did not make the vaccine mandatory on UL campuses, but said campus officials were doing everything possible to encourage students to receive it.
UL Lafayette, for example, recently unveiled incentives including free laptops, iPhones and campus parking.
UL officials say they are not sure how many students on their campuses have received the corona virus vaccine so far.
LSU officials say only 23% of their students have been vaccinated.
âOur goal is to get as many people vaccinated as possible,â said Henderson. âYou are in control of your own health and safety for the first time in this pandemic; vaccination is what protects you.
Even after the vaccines receive full FDA approval, Landry and lawyers representing VCOM students argue that students still cannot be required to receive them.
The students are represented by Liberty Counsel, a Florida nonprofit known for its legal actions on behalf of evangelical Christian organizations.
The law firm has frequently made national news amid the pandemic while representing churches that were prohibited from hosting in-person worship services during corona virus shutdowns.
Liberty Counsel also sent a letter to the LSU School of Dentistry this spring after the school made corona virus vaccines mandatory, calling the mandate a “violation of basic individual, economic and religious freedoms.” Soon after, the dental school changed its policy.
In the case of VCOM, attorneys for Liberty Counsel say that VCOM implemented a âsnitchâ program targeting students who would not be vaccinated, and that students were discriminated against by being forced to wear masks until. ” that they provide proof of vaccination.
“No school can force or coerce anyone to receive these injections, and certainly not if it violates sincere religious beliefs,” Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver said in a statement.
VCOM officials did not return any phone or email messages for this story.
Their Louisiana campus opened last summer with a class of 150 students, and VCOM also has campuses in Virginia, Alabama, and South Carolina.
Most educational institutions in Louisiana require students to show proof of multiple vaccinations, including tetanus; measles, mumps and rubella; and meningitis for students. But Landry argued in his letter that even these demands go too far.
“Under Louisiana law, vaccinations at colleges and universities are never required if a student presents a written statement from a physician that a medical exemption is warranted or if a student presents a” written dissent. of the student, “Landry insisted.
Courts may take a different point of view: A federal judge in Texas last month dismissed a lawsuit brought by more than 100 hospital workers challenging vaccination requirements at the Houston Methodist Hospital. The judge ruled that the hospital was within its authority to mandate the vaccine, writing in its ruling that the hospital “is trying to do its job of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus.” It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer. “
Landry also argued that medical students – who are not licensed and unable to practice medicine – have expertise in their field.
“Surely some of these medical students already have more medical training than the lawyer some of them spoke with?” Landry wrote.
Throughout the pandemic, Landry played down the threat of the corona virus and fought Governor John Bel Edwards against the restrictions of the corona virus.
His comments contrast directly with those of doctors and public health officials; Ochsner noted this week that his hospitals had no patients with vaccine complications, but more than 50 with complications from the virus.
Landry closed his letter by stating, âI will pursue all available legal means to ensure that the fundamental freedoms of the citizens of Louisiana are protected against unfair and discriminatory policies. “
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