BLOOMINGTON, Ind — Several hundred people gathered in Bloomington Thursday afternoon to protest Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Parents, students, and others say the shot should be a choice, not a requirement to work at IU or attend classes.
“Stop the mandates! Stop the mandates!” the crowd chanted at the "Rally for Medical Freedom" at the Sample Gates on the IU main campus in Bloomington.
Protesters claim many reasons for not getting the shot, clearly stated on signs they held and with their voices.
"To force this on our kids is not only morally and ethically wrong, it's criminal,” said Ann Dorris, an IU parent and now president of IU Family for Choice Not Mandates.
The group scheduled its protest to coincide with the IU Board of Trustees meeting.
"I hope what it will accomplish is the voice of the people to be heard, that this is a very concerning situation for them, that no one should be forced into doing something against their medical freedom,” said Dorris.
IU is requiring every student, faculty member and staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus in August.
Laura McCormick attended the rally, holding a sign that read “medical mandates = social engineering” on one side and “It’s mutating into medical dictatorship” on the other. McCormick’s daughter just graduated from Hamilton Heights High School.
Mom is reconsidering whether to let her daughter come to IU this fall.
"My concern is for the freedom of my children and my children's children,” said McCormick. “I think that we've let our government and our private/public partnerships go too far in controlling our lives in America."
Jaime Carini is a graduate music student at IU. Carini told the crowd she has been advised against the vaccine because of her medical condition. But she's worried she may not receive an exemption.
"I would encourage students, even if you want to get the vaccine, even if you don't, advocate for your personal choice, because some people are in really complicated positions,” said Carini.
Protesters believe IU is taking away their choice for a vaccine with only emergency use authorization and too many long-term unknowns.
"I don't trust this,” said McCormick. “I don't trust the pharmaceutical industry. I don't trust the local or state government in Indiana, and I don't trust IU at this point."