Georgetown expert says claims of vaccine requirements infringe on constitutional rights are not true

Apparently an email going around the University of Maryland Campus claims the public state institution, requiring vaccines and testing for the Fall 2021 semester, is infringing on your Four Amendment rights. 

READ MORE: University of Maryland tells students to sequester-in-place due to rise in COVID-19 cases

"Requiring a vaccine doesn’t infringe on any of your rights, but in particular it does not infringe on your Fourth Amendment rights," said Georgetown University Global Health Law expert, Professor Lawrence Gostin, "Fourth Amendment is a – an unlawful search and seizure normally in your home and this is neither a search or seizure. Nor is it unreasonable."

"Everybody has a right to make any decision about their own health and wellbeing, but you don’t have a right to go unmasked or unvaccinated into a crowded university cafeteria or dormitory or classroom because that’s just a recipe for the transmission of a potentially dangerous virus for other people. You have no right to put other people at risk," added Gostin, who also directs the World Health Organization’s Center on National and Global Health Law. The Georgetown expert told FOX 5 he is also advising universities on best reopening practices.

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The conversation with him and university representatives comes as more and more public universities and colleges opt to require vaccines for staff and students to return next fall.

The University System of Maryland decided to require vaccinations impacting around a dozen public schools including the state’s flagship institution, The University of Maryland College Park. Vaccinations are required by Aug. 2 of this year. 

In Virginia, the Commonwealth’s Attorney General previously announced individual schools could make their own decisions. The University of Virginia announced a July 1st vaccination deadline to return to campus.  Other public schools, Virginia Tech for example, are still only recommending vaccinations

A school spokesperson tells FOX 5 Virginia Tech has a June 7th and 8th Board of Visitors meeting, but it’s not clear if any changes may come if it. The school’s online guidance reads: "Because vaccines are provided under FDA emergency use authorizations, the university cannot mandate students to receive vaccination. If the FDA fully approved vaccines, these can be mandated only if required by the commonwealth."

READ MORE: UMD researchers using machine to study how people spread COVID-19

"I do have concerns but, I mean I really don’t know what I’m going to do but as long as I’m vaccinated, I’m just looking out for myself and my circles," said Ankita Gole, who told FOX 5 she is a Virginia Tech student.

"Everyone has their own opinion and you’re not going to agree with everyone, but personally I am vaccinated and feel like a lot safer running into people with differences of opinion," said University of Maryland graduate, Mollie Fink. 

"Certain vaccinations have always been required even to move into the doors and I feel like the COVID vaccine shouldn’t be an acceptation. I think if it’s necessary to go back to in-person classes and get what it’s worth for our tuition, then I think it’s a sacrifice everyone should have to make," said Adaora Harris, who tells FOX 5 she attends Penn State.  

Gostin told FOX 5 there are still religious and medical requiring exemptions for the coronavirus vaccine, although he believes they are still narrow in scope. The Georgetown expert said any religion that values the sanctity of life, would actually defending vaccination requirements. 

An University of Virginia spokesperson tells FOX 5 while the school is still finalizing exemption guidance, they expect it to be similar to exemptions they currently offer for the MMR vaccine.  

FOX 5 also asked Gostin and others why those who contracted COVID19 and built antibodies against the virus are being required to still get the shot. We were told this is due to CDC guidance, which says the science is still unclear around how long those with antibodies are fully protected.

You can find that full guidance here.