Student files lawsuit to block U of M vaccine requirement

People walk down an outdoor corridor.
People walk through an outdoor common area on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis on Aug. 3, 2020.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2020

A University of Minnesota student has filed a lawsuit against the school seeking to block a vaccine mandate due to go into effect next week.

The suit on behalf of the unnamed 20-year-old Duluth student was filed in state court. The complaint says the student tested positive for COVID-19 in November, and feels he's protected from further infection. It also states he doesn't want the COVID vaccine on grounds of what the suit calls "conscientiously held, but not specifically religious beliefs."

The court filing says U officials don't have the authority to add them to a longstanding list of state-sanctioned student vaccinations.

President Joan Gabel and the regents instituted a vaccine requirement on the U's five campuses in August, but also included medical and religious exemptions. U general counsel Douglas Peterson told regents in August the decision was based on law and public health policy.

University of Minnesota public relations director Jake Ricker said he was not aware if the university had been served with the suit as yet, and so could not comment on specifics. 

However, he said, “We are confident in the operational decisions we made regarding vaccinations for our community. Our actions reflect the high priority we place on creating the safest, healthiest possible campus environment for our students, faculty and staff.”

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