By Patrick McGerr
BLOOMINGTON – About 10% of all Indiana University students, faculty, and staff have received exemptions from the school’s coronavirus vaccination mandate. According to an Indiana University spokesperson, IU issued exemptions from coronavirus vaccination to 12,006 people across all of its campuses from a potential pool of more than 115,000 people.
Religious exemptions were most frequently granted, with 9,394 people receiving permission from IU to learn or work on-campus without a vaccination for reasons related to their faith. However, medical exemptions were the least common, with just 256 given to students, faculty, and staff across all campuses.
The university system granted 2,425 exemptions to people engaged in online programs who won’t be required to step foot on IU campuses for their work or education. A university spokesperson said some students were denied the online program exemption, as they would not be exclusively online.
IU’s ethical exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine was utilized by 907 people. It was quietly added to the university’s policies listed online. The addition, which was made on July 19, prompted questions about whether IU bowed to political pressure. However, IU said the ethical exemption from the coronavirus vaccine was implemented to bring the school’s COVID-19 vaccination rules in line with its policies for other vaccines.
It should be noted the number of coronavirus vaccine exemptions reported in the various categories add up to more than 12,006 because some people sought multiple dispensations.
According to an IU spokesperson, there are no available breakdowns of numbers of exemptions by campus. However, an estimate can be made based on publicly available data.
Adding the number of students at IU Bloomington in fall 2021 to the number of Bloomington faculty and staff from the last year of available data (fall 2020), and applying the current Bloomington campus vaccination rate of 92.2% suggests roughly 4,389 people out of an estimated total of 56,271 received exemptions at the flagship campus.
Anyone who received an exemption must be tested weekly if they are to remain on an IU campus.