It’s now illegal in 8 states for schools to force COVID vaccinations

New law bars Ohio 's public schools from mandating vaccines not fully authorized by the FDA
By: | July 23, 2021

With the Delta variant spreading and younger children ineligible for vaccines, more states are barring schools from requiring COVID vaccinations as 2021-22 approaches.

An Ohio law approved last week bars public schools from mandating vaccines not fully authorized by the FDA and preventing unvaccinated individuals from participating in school activities.

In June, a bill prohibiting schools from requiring vaccines, vaccine passports or masks became law in Oklahoma.

“Masking children should not be an easily taken step, especially when many enforcing the mandate were often not wearing masks themselves,” the law’s author, State Sen. Rob Standridge, said in a statement. “Most importantly, schools cannot force unvaccinated children to wear masks. Additionally, students should not be forced to get the COVID vaccine to enroll or attend school.”

Oklahoma schools are also not allowed to post on their website vaccine options for parents.

“This bill is about protecting a student’s right to attend public school in person even if that student or their parent decide the COVID-19 vaccine is not the right choice for them,” Rep. Kevin West said the statement. “This also will protect unvaccinated students from being forced to wear masks when mask mandates do not apply to all.

Some of the states have passed explicit bans on vaccination mandates while others have buried the restrictions in laws that create programs for military children or prohibit vaccine passports. Some of the new laws are prominently posted on state websites while officials elsewhere gave their anti-vaccine legislation scant publicity.

Here’s a look at immunization laws passed this spring and summer:

  • Alabama: In May, a newly enacted Alabama law prohibits schools from forcing students to receive any newly approved vaccines as a condition of attendance.
  • Tennessee: A law enacted in May prohibits schools and other government agencies from “from promulgating, adopting, or enforcing an ordinance or resolution that requires a person to receive an immunization, vaccination, or injection for the SARS-CoV-2 virus or any variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
  • Florida: Hurricane emergencies are now the only legal reason administrators can suspend in-person instruction. A law passed in May prohibits government entities from “denying service” to anyone based on their vaccination status.
  • Arkansas: Government entities, including public schools, can recommend vaccinations as long as they are not required, according to a law passed in April.
  • Montana: A law passed in May makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on vaccination status.
  • Indiana: Government entities cannot issue or require vaccine passports under a law enacted in April.
  • Utah: The state took action in March, passing a law that doesn’t single out public schools but “prohibits a governmental entity from requiring that an individual receive a 16 vaccine for COVID-19.”