Mississippi’s public universities cannot require COVID-19 vaccine, board says

OXFORD, Miss. — The board that governs Mississippi’s state colleges will not mandate COVID-19 vaccines.

The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning voted recently to ban vaccine mandates from its eight campuses, including Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

The IHL has ruled that the vaccine cannot be required for enrollment or employment.

The IHL is the first college board in the country to do this.

Although the board realizes that the vaccine is the best way to fight COVID-19, it won’t mandate it. Instead, the board said it heavily encourages anyone eligible to get the shots.

Some students at Ole Miss, like Tyler Kirvin, find that ridiculous.

”I have been vaccinated, so I think it is kind of silly. This is a public institute. You don’t have the right to infringe on people’s rights, but there is a pandemic going on. It’s been going on for almost two years now,” Kirvin said.

Student Noah Watson has been vaccinated but says he understands why the IHL has taken a stance against a mandate.

”It doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to go ahead and allow the COVID vaccine, and it is a choice and fairly new in the making, so I understand people’s reluctance to get it.” Watson said.

The IHL has said that they are following the Missississippi Department of Health guidelines.

Freshman Lauren McCambridge thinks the board made the right decision.

”I do agree everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I do agree we should keep our campus safe, but if you don’t want to get vaccinated, you shouldn’t have to.” McCambridge said.

FOX13 reached out to the Faculty Senate at Ole Miss for comment. They represent the faculty of the university. When we hear back from them, this story will be updated.