Tampa, Fla. – April 29, 2021 – GrayRobinson Labor and Employment Attorney Gregory A. Hearing, shareholder in the Tampa office, today was quoted in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s “How Legal is Mandating Vaccines for College Students? Tampa Bay Lawyers Weigh In.”
When asked about universities rolling out requirements for the COVID-19 vaccine for the fall semester, Hearing added regardless of a university's policy, there needs to be an exception for exemptions. Those could come due to health reasons, religious beliefs or pregnancy.
Hearing told the TBBJ, "They have a right to do that; it just can't be a blanket rule [of a mandate].”
The story goes on to say how representatives from each local university and college have not decided to require a COVID-19 vaccine come this fall as of now. When discussing mandates by the State’s Board of Governors, Hearing told the TBBJ he believes a mandate could be more effective, with the right exemption policy, to avoid both a public health crisis and eventual lawsuits on the flip side. While some students may sue for the mandate of receiving the vaccine, others, he said, could sue for not requiring the vaccine and then contracting Covid-19 on campus.
"Mandating would be smart and then allow as many waivers as they qualify for," he said. "Have students sign a waiver that says, 'I won't sue the school if I contact Covid through their school.' They need to talk to their counsel and see what's best for them, but I think it's best from a public health and public policy perspective."
But he says the real question is the schools' ability to enforce a mandate effectively.
"The question in my mind is if they mandate it, will they enforce it?" he said. "If only 50% of students get [the vaccine], how would they enforce it? They can't. They wouldn’t be able to operate with only half their students." Tampa Bay Business Journal subscribers can read the full article here.