With universities prepping for a return to in-person teaching and on-campus living this fall, Republican lawmakers have spent recent weeks attempting to block public and private institutions from requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Right-wing media outlets have, in turn, pounced on the controversy, making campus vaccine requirements the latest front in their insurgency against the White House’s herd immunity plan.
During a Wednesday night appearance on Fox News, Charlie Kirk, the cofounder of the pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA, drew a parallel between student vaccine requirements and the racist caste system once mandated in South Africa. “We are going to give everything we have to make sure that students are not going to have to live in a medical apartheid because they don’t want to get the vaccine,” Kirk told Tucker Carlson. “It’s almost this apartheid-style open-air hostage situation, like, Oh, you can have your freedom back if you get the jab. This is unacceptable; we’re going to fight back against it.” Carlson, who falsely claimed in May that a subversive “national [vaccination] mandate” is being imposed on college students, affirmed his guest, saying, “That’s exactly right.”
Kirk used his time on Tucker Carlson Tonight to announce Turning Point USA’s new “No Forced Vax” campaign, which will “fight back against forced campus vaccinations” and supposedly operate chapters in 2,500 high schools and universities, according to a press release. “Rogue administrators are trying to thwart [students’] educational goals and force them to publicly share their medical history,” the group’s website states. “The government has taken many strides to ease their way into private [citizens’] lives, and mandatory vaccinations are the newest way in which they can do so.” The campaign will also host “hundreds of local gatherings, school tabling events this fall, and a larger digital campaign designed to educate and embolden local health care officials, teachers, administrators, students, and parents to defend a student’s right to choose.”