Jeff Landry

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry speaks during a town hall meeting held at North Park in Denham Springs on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020.

Attorney General Jeff Landry recently sent a letter to LSU leaders advising against a COVID-19 vaccination mandate, which came after faculty members sent letters to leaders seeking a requirement that students be vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall.

In a letter to LSU Interim President Thomas Galligan, Landry said LSU should not require students or employees to take COVID-19 vaccines “authorized under an Emergency Use Authorization” (EUA).

“Under an Emergency Use Authorization, vaccines are not allowed to be mandatory,” Landry wrote. “Students who decline the vaccine may continue complying with reasonable safety measures.”

LSU leaders said in April that students would not be required to be vaccinated upon returning to campus, though they are “strongly” encouraged. The university has also outlined other COVID-19 measures in recent weeks, mainly regarding face coverings.

Thanks to a steady supply of vaccine doses, Gov. John Bel Edwards lifted the statewide mask mandate in late April, roughly nine months after it was first implemented. However, face coverings were still required in some places, including K-12 schools and colleges and universities.

That ended in late May, when Edwards announced that the statewide masking mandate at places of education, among other places, would be lifted at the end of the school year, leaving the decision to local entities.

Out of “an abundance of caution,” Galligan and other LSU leaders opted to keep the masking mandate in place, requiring face coverings while indoors and within 6 feet of others outdoors.

“As we have said from the beginning of the pandemic, safety will always be our guidepost,” Galligan said in a letter May 27. “We feel that continuing the mask mandate at this time is the safest option for our employees and students while we continue to monitor the state’s progress regarding COVID-19.”

Over recent weeks, hundreds of LSU staff members have shown support for a Faculty Senate proposal that would see the state’s flagship make vaccination a requirement for the fall semester.

Galligan, who will hand over the job to incoming President William Tate in July, has said he will consider the faculty senate proposal and consult with the school’s Board of Supervisors on its legality.

The faculty senate proposal prompted a response from Landry, who sent a letter to Galligan May 28 explaining that “some people hold sincere religious beliefs against taking vaccines in general, or taking those derived from aborted fetal cell lines, or sold by companies that profit from the sale of vaccines and other products derived from abortion.”

“LSU employees and students are protected against mandated COVID vaccines, under 21U.S.C. §360bbb-3, which provides that EUA products require (as a condition of emergency approval) that people have ‘the option to accept or refuse administration of the product,’” Landry wrote. “FDA has an obligation to ensure that recipients of the vaccine under an EUA are informed… that they have the option to accept or refuse the vaccine.”

Landry also said that other people are concerned regarding the potential long-term health effects on their bodies of COVID-19 vaccines, which he noted “have not been subject to long-term testing.”

“Louisiana law recognizes the right of students to be free from ‘creed’ discrimination, which includes discrimination based on religious beliefs and nonreligious beliefs,” Landry wrote. “Louisiana requires postsecondary institutions to recognize religious and other personal reasons as exemptions to vaccine mandates.”

Landry concluded his letter requesting a written response from LSU that no COVID-19 vaccine mandates will be issued.

To read Landry’s letter, click here.

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