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WATCH: Protest held over Indiana University’s vaccine requirement policy

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 10:36 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 2:34 PM CDT
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WFIE) - A protest broke out on Indiana University’s campus Thursday in regards to the school’s vaccine requirement policy.

The protest occurred during an IU Board of Trustees meeting.

Students, parents and staff held a protest and “Rally for Medical Freedom” at the Sample Gates on IU-Bloomington’s campus.

The protest aims to get the University to retract the vaccine mandate.

Protesters asked the Board to reconsider the mandate and re-evaluate the benefits of the vaccine.

“What are the risks at this point in time from the virus?” Margaret Menge, who hosted the protest and happens to be a candidate in the latest Board of Trustees election. “What are the risks of the vaccine?”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have both approved the currently allowed vaccines as safe and effective.

Pat Shoulders, who sits on the Board of Trustees, also said that as the largest medical school in the state, IU is informed in its decisions.

“That should tell you that if our scientists and our doctors think this is the right thing to do, that’s good enough for me,” Shoulders said. “[It] ought to be good enough for everybody.”

Still, with the mandate only allowing six medical exemptions, one woman shared that her own condition and her health care provider’s beliefs might be ignored.

“It does not allow room for the practitioner to insert their medical opinion,” Jaime, a graduate medical student said.

Shoulders asserted that it’s anyone’s right to refuse the vaccine, but it’s not their right to go to IU.

“No one is required to go to college,” he said. “No one is required to attend Indiana University, they apply and they are accepted.”

Most of the protest focused on whether it’s the right of a public university to enforce a mandate.

“I just don’t know where that stops,” Laura McCormick, who is still considering whether her child will attend the school said. “I don’t know, when can the state or when can institutions tell you to do that? That’s never happened in history.”

Shoulders responded to that claim, “Mumps, measles, flu shots, polio vaccines, diphtheria, this isn’t new.”

Protesters stressed they’re concerned for the students’ safety.

Ann Dorris, who is now the president of IU Families for Choice Not Mandates (the name the protest group chose for itself) said, “There is absolutely no reason that we should be subjecting an injection on these children with the adverse reaction and events being so high.”

Shoulders said there isn’t a high risk, and there is a good reason.

“Vaccinations have cut the death rate, have cut COVID, [and] have brought us back to a time where we can almost be returning to normal,” he explained.

He said the school would likely hold fast in its decision.

“No amount of silliness in the public square will convince people who make decisions based on the best thinking and what science tells us - it won’t change anyone’s mind,” Shoulders said.

Protesters stated they plan to continue to speak out.

You can watch Thursday’s protest below:

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