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Considerations for College Vaccine Requirements in Ohio

August 19, 2019 2:12 PM | Anonymous member

It seems more and more Ohio colleges are requiring vaccines. Some universities, especially public ones, offer exemptions but exemptions to vaccination might be difficult to locate online and you may have to ask for exemption forms at the time of enrollment. Please read any forms carefully for language that implies you are putting others at risk or that requires clergy validation of religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are not constrained to particular denominations or organized religions. 

Ohio law, ORC 1713.55, does not require vaccination for enrollment but simply requires that students disclose at the time of enrollment if they have been vaccinated for Meningococcal and Hepatitis B and only if they will be a resident of on campus dormitory.

College vaccine requirements have the potential to be challenged by Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act and (for students pursuing medical-related careers in a university associated with a hospital or other covered entity) the HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom division.

Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. 

"Since this law first went into effect it has been applied to many other situations and now supports equal rights for people in various circumstances, including students applying to or actively attending college.

What Title VII means for students trying to get into college is that they cannot be discriminated against based on religious preferences, gender, race, country of origin, color"

The article continues:

“When applying to college, Title VII provides all students with a fair and equal chance at acceptance. Once there, Title VII continues to protect students and staff alike by insuring their right to practice their religion by mandating that schools must provide reasonable accommodation for those wishing to observe various religious holidays and customs. Failure to do so can have serious consequences."

Please note: many www2.ed.gov links appear to be broken, click here for reference site

Basic information, including links to file a complaint can be found by clicking this link.

If you believe that a covered entity discriminated against you (or someone else) on the basis of conscience or religious freedom, coerced you to violate your conscience or religious beliefs, or burdened your free exercise of religion, you may file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). You may file a complaint for yourself, your organization, or for someone else by clicking here.

The above information provides some hope for those faced with college-initiated vaccine requirements and no offered exemptions. Fair warning that religious/conscience exemptions must be worded to exemplify deeply held beliefs -- not your feelings about the science or safety — so proceed with caution and consider using a knowledgeable attorney to help you write your religious accommodation request.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Health Freedom Ohio. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion, and are not intended to malign any religion, ethic, group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

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