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Pushback challenges vaccination requirements at US colleges

In many Republican-led states, governments have banned vaccine mandates, or school leaders face political pressure to limit their anti-virus actions.

INDIANAPOLIS — NOTE: The above video is of a previous report about the federal appeals court ruling in favor of Indiana University's vaccine mandate. 

The quickly approaching fall semester has America's colleges under pressure to decide how far they should go to guard their campuses against the coronavirus while navigating legal and political questions and rising infection rates. 

Hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide have told students in recent months they must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before classes begin. Indiana University is one of those universities. 

IU got the go-ahead to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for all students and staff on Monday. The university was taken to court over the mandate. However, a federal appeals court ruled Monday that IU has the right to do whatever is necessary to keep its students safe. James Bopp, the plaintiffs' lawyer, says he will ask the Supreme Court to consider the case.  

Credit: WTHR

Monday's ruling is the highest court decision regarding college immunization mandates.

RELATED: Appeals court sides with IU on vaccine mandate, lawyer says he'll ask Supreme Court to reconsider

California State University, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University joined the list of universities mandating vaccinations last week, citing concerns about the highly contagious delta variant. 

Similarly, Butler University is requiring its students to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus. 

RELATED: Butler University to require COVID-19 vaccine

Yet many more colleges have held off on vaccine mandates. In many Republican-led states, governments have banned such requirements, or school leaders face political pressure to limit their anti-virus actions.

In May, a group of 19 Indiana lawmakers asked Gov. Eric Holcomb to use his executive powers to stop IU's COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all students, staff and faculty returning to its campuses across the state in the fall.  

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita issued an opinion not long after on the IU policy, saying it "clearly runs afoul of state law." He pointed to legislation passed by the General Assembly earlier this year that prohibits public institutions from mandating proof of vaccination.

RELATED: Lawmakers ask governor to use executive power to stop IU's COVID vaccination requirement for students, staff and faculty

This led IU to change course. The university planned to have students and staff show proof of vaccination. However, now they won't require documentation. Instead, those who have received the vaccine can certify their status as part of an attestation form. Students, faculty and staff found to be lying could face punishment.   

On the flip side, Purdue University will not require its students to get vaccinated. Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said that it will be left up to a student to decide if they will get vaccinated or not.

Daniels said 60 percent of students have already registered that they are vaccinated. He said the university will continue working to increase those numbers, but he doesn't see how requiring the COVID-19 vaccine will work.

RELATED: Daniels: Purdue will not require COVID-19 vaccine, not saying how it will enforce other restrictions