Opponents of a vaccine mandate at Indiana University have lost an appeal in federal court. The Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the university's requirement for all students and staff to be vaccinated by the Aug. 15 start of the fall semester can stand, the Indianapolis Star reports. "People who do not want to be vaccinated may go elsewhere," wrote Judge Frank Easterbrook. The court rejected an argument from eight students that the mandate was unconstitutional, noting that religious and medical exemptions are being allowed. Unvaccinated students will be required to wear masks, follow social distancing guidelines, and be tested twice a week. A federal judge upheld the mandate last month.
"Once again, the court has affirmed our legitimate public health interest in assuring the safety of our students, faculty, and staff and we are excited to welcome our community back for the fall semester," said IU spokesman Chuck Carney. The rulings are believed to be the nation's first in a case involving university vaccine mandates, and James Bopp, a lawyer for the student plaintiffs, says he plans to ask the Supreme Court to review them, the AP reports. The mandate affects around 90,000 students and 40,000 employees on seven campuses. The university initially planned to require proof of vaccination, but it made providing proof optional after a backlash from Republican state lawmakers. (Read more vaccine mandate stories.)