Repeal Stanford University's COVID-19 booster vaccine mandate

Repeal Stanford University's COVID-19 booster vaccine mandate

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!
Monte Fischer started this petition to Stanford University and

Dear President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Persis Drell, and Associate Vice Provost Russell Furr:

We write to express our opposition to Stanford University’s decision to mandate COVID-19 booster vaccines for all students effective January 31, 2022.

We are not anti-booster or anti-vaccination. We are pro-bodily autonomy, and support the rights of Stanford students to evaluate the data and make their own medical choices.

First, the data indicates that students at Stanford are extremely well protected against harm from COVID-19. Over 95% of the student body is fully vaccinated, barring only those students with a Stanford-approved medical or religious exemption. Many students have freely chosen to receive booster vaccinations. Many students have acquired hybrid immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection on top of vaccinations. The latest CDC estimate as of the time of writing is that fully vaccinated individuals between the ages of 18 and 49 face weekly COVID-19 hospitalization rates of around 0.9 in 100,000. The rate for students under 30 is half of that: 0.45 in 100,000. Preliminary studies suggest that rates of hospitalization from the more mild Omicron variant may be as much as 80% lower than rates for previous strains. 

This is on par with 2018-2019 CDC estimates for weekly hospitalization rates from the flu in 18-30 year olds. One wonders why Stanford was not as concerned in the past for the health and safety of its students, or if, perhaps, its present fears are overblown.

According to the CDC, anyone with an Omicron infection, regardless of vaccination status, can spread COVID-19 to others. Stanford itself experienced over 700 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff in the first week of this winter quarter alone, despite requiring students to be fully vaccinated and not even holding in-person classes. 

Booster vaccines themselves pose known risks. For men aged 16-29, the rate of vaccine-induced heart inflammation has been estimated at 10.69 in 100,000 by research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. For men aged 16-17, the FDA estimates the rate of vaccine-induced heart inflammation at 7.15 in 100,000.

In light of this data, is it any wonder that the FDA’s expert advisory panel overwhelmingly rejected the universal recommendation of COVID-19 vaccine booster doses, voting 16-2 against the measure? 

Our scientific understanding of booster vaccine effectiveness against the more mild and transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 is still preliminary. Most troubling is the potentially short duration of the protection induced. A recent report released by the UK Health Security Agency found that 10 weeks after administration, booster vaccination effectiveness had fallen from around 70% to around 45%. It is precisely the preliminary nature of our data on booster vaccines that should prompt caution and humility in the University’s response to the evolving situation.

In truth, students have received little in the way of rational argument from the University as to why they must receive booster vaccination. A December 14th announcement explained that COVID-19 vaccines are “most effective against the Omicron variant in individuals who have received both a full course of vaccination and a booster dose.” Nothing else has been explained. Stanford has communicated neither the data on booster effectiveness, nor risks of heart inflammation from booster vaccination, nor the dramatically low risk that its student body faces from COVID-19 in the first place. The University has not made a rational case for forcing students to receive booster vaccines and by using mandates it is forbidding rational dissent among its students.

If Stanford’s foremost goal is reducing the spread of Omicron, it would be far more effective if students never returned to campus at all. The fact that the University is working to return to in-person instruction suggests that it believes a balance must be struck between minimizing the spread of COVID-19 and creating an educational environment that promotes learning and growth for the future leaders of a free and democratic society. We urge the University to consider: what example of leadership is it setting for its students with a blanket booster vaccination mandate?

Let us be clear: requiring that students receive booster vaccines or be withdrawn from their courses and removed from the University is unethical and coercive. Is the basic human right of bodily autonomy no longer recognized by the University? Does the University recognize no bounds on its control over students' bodies? The mandate is nothing other than flagrant overreach and abuse of power. This is not who we are, and it must not be tolerated.

It is wrong to hold young people’s futures hostage in order to force them to receive novel medical treatments that they do not want. Let the booster be made widely available to anyone who wishes to receive it, and let “the wind of freedom blow” for those who do not wish to do so. There are many alternatives to keep the university safe without employing medical coercion and eroding the moral reputation of Stanford.

You have a choice, President Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Drell, and Associate Vice Provost Furr: are we a morally serious community which respects the freedom of its members to make informed decisions, or will the University trample on its least powerful members for the sake of a performative, unnecessary, and coercive measure?

Stanford can hold the safety of its community in high regard while also respecting the rights of its students. Let boosters be made easily available to all those who want them. Let the University use reason and evidence to persuade its students to get third doses instead of strong-arming us with mandates. Show us the leadership that we aspire to cultivate in ourselves.

The booster mandate must go.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!