Legal Analysis: State Board of Health has Authority Over Student Vaccines

LAS VEGAS – The legal authority to mandate a vaccine for Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) students falls within the jurisdiction of the State Board of Health, per Nevada law.  The Board of Regents have the authority to encourage and promote the COVID-19 vaccine, however, a vaccine mandate would have to come from the State Board of Health.

NSHE attorneys noted the Nevada Board of Regents cannot mandate a vaccine and would be obligated by law to implement and enforce a vaccine if required by the State Board of Health, which is made up of qualified medical, scientific, and subject-matter experts.

The NSHE institutions and Chancellor are prepared to provide input to the medical and science experts on the State Board of Health as they deliberate whether or not to require a COVID-19 vaccine for NSHE students.

The State Board of Health, under Nevada Administrative Code 441A.755, already mandates that all university freshman in Nevada must show proof of having received vaccines for up to six dangerous and communicable diseases as a condition of admission, save for a recognized religious belief or medical condition exemption. Those diseases include tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps, and rubella; and freshman students who are less than 23 years old must also be vaccinated for Neisseria meningitidis.

Meanwhile, NSHE moved forward with implementing a mask requirement for nearly all NSHE campuses and properties as announced on July 27, 2021 in accordance with Gov. Sisolak’s most recent directives.

Chancellor Melody Rose said “NSHE and our institutions continue to encourage everyone who has not been vaccinated, to receive a vaccine as soon as possible. We understand and share the concerns of students, faculty, and staff regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and wellbeing of Nevada’s public higher education community continues to be our utmost priority in the midst of this dynamic and evolving situation.

“We will continue to work collaboratively with local, county, state, and federal authorities in our response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Chancellor Rose said.

About NSHE

The Nevada System of Higher Education, comprised of two doctoral-granting research universities, a state college, four comprehensive community colleges, and one environmental research institute, serves the educational and job training needs of Nevada. NSHE provides educational opportunities to more than 100,000 students and is governed by the Nevada Board of Regents. The System includes the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada State College, Desert Research Institute, the College of Southern Nevada, Great Basin College, Truckee Meadows Community College, and Western Nevada College.