UC Flu Vaccine Mandate Update: Court Case, Survey Research Results and Press Release
Court Case Update: A Voice for Choice Advocacy has been actively advocating for the UC Flu Vaccination Requirement to be rescinded. We have had wins in that a religious exemption has been added for all faculty, staff and students, and many have, with our guidance been successful in having those granted. However, the fight goes on and today at 2:30PM the preliminary injunction for the case that Children's Health Defense brought forward on the issue will be heard in the Alameda Superior Court. You can watch it here: [link removed] [[link removed]]
Survey Research Results: Consumer Evaluation & Insights also released their report on UC faculty, staff and student opinions the Flu Vaccine Requirement. You can read the full report here: [link removed] [[link removed]]
Press Release: A Voice for Choice Advocacy also released the following to the press today, summarizing the current situation. If you have press contacts, please forward this to them ( [link removed] [[link removed]] ):
PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UC Flu Vaccine Mandate on trial today: Are Vaccine Mandates more effective in increasing vaccination or distrust and discrimination?
Sacramento – November 1 st , 2020 would have been the first day those attending any University of California (UC) campus in person would have had to show proof of flu vaccination per UC Executive Orders. While litigation has temporarily halted the mandate for this week, divided opinions in the UC community continue.
At a time where vaccine hesitancy is at an all-time high and the vaccine debate is more polarized than ever, forcing anything, let alone a liability free product, seems counterintuitive. But yet on July 31 st 2020, the outgoing President of the University of California, Janet Napolitano, left a parting gift by signing an Executive Order ( [link removed] [[link removed]] ) mandating the flu vaccine for all faculty, staff and students for the ’20-21 school year. While faculty and staff were allowed religious, disability or medical exemptions, per the 1964 Civil Rights act, under which the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s 2009 guidance unequivocally concludes that “both the ADA and Title VII prohibits an employer from compelling its employees to be vaccinated for influenza regardless of their medical condition or religious beliefs – even during a pandemic”, students were left with only an extremely strict medical exemption.
The Executive Order was signed without input from the greater UC community. Rather than initially recommending the flu vaccine and respecting the UC community’s ability to make medical decisions for themselves, the UC President decided to use her executive powers and override for the greater good, spurring distrust and discriminatory feelings among the community. During the following weeks, the University of California felt pressure from the UC community (with thousands signing petitions), labor unions, as well as advocacy groups, such as A Voice for Choice Advocacy, all requesting the Executive Order be rescinded. A lawsuit was also filed requesting the same.
Consumer Evaluation & Insights, a San Francisco bay area consumer research company, also ruffled feathers within the UC system by conducting an independent consumer research survey eliciting opinions from faculty, staff and students on the flu vaccine mandate. Threatened by what the survey may find and wanting to quash the research, UC legal counsel sent a cease and desist letter claiming trademark infringement of the “University of California” and “UC” names, as well as demanding the survey software provider to close the survey. Rather than succumbing to these threats to halt the research, Consumer Evaluation & Insights moved forward with the research minus those references.
The research found opinions are mixed on whether UC should mandate a flu vaccine, differing across cohorts – faculty, staff and students - and correlating with past flu vaccination status. Faculty are most aligned with a UC flu vaccine requirement, and significantly more likely to be vaccinated for the flu - 75% annually in the past 5 years. Students are most likely to state flu vaccination should be a personal choice, and are least likely to vaccinate for the flu – 40% have not been vaccinated for flu in the past five years. Staff are most likely to be comfortable with recommendations and alternatives to vaccinations. The same is true when it comes to opinions on what exemptions should be available, with faculty being most adamant exemptions be limited to strict medical exemptions – 53% vs 34% staff and 31% students - and staff and students wanting more non-medical exemption options, such as religious and/or personal belief exemptions – 38% and 43% respectively vs 17% faculty. Full report can be viewed here: [link removed] [[link removed]]
Under the pressure, the new UC President Drake signed an Executive Order on September 29, 2020 ( [link removed] [[link removed]] ), modifying the July 31 st flu vaccine EO so the flu vaccine is only required of those on campus, and faculty, staff and students can all opt out of the flu vaccine if they have a religious or medical exemption. The religious exemption requires answers to specific questions to understand the requester’s religious beliefs and to ensure their sincerity. Since then, both Executive Orders have been suspended due to litigation brought forward by Faculty, Staff and Students to rescind the Orders.
The 200 year old debate over whether vaccine should be mandated continues with a tug of war between individual choice in medical treatments and civil rights and the greater good and police powers. While mandating vaccines certainly coerces vaccination, at what cost does it come? Is the heightened distrust and religious discrimination worth it? Questions which will continue to play out as more employers, schools and other entities try to require the flu vaccine and soon likely the COVID-19 vaccine.
The preliminary injunction court hearing on this issue will be heard today, November 5, 2020 at 2:30 in the Alameda Superior Court:
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