Prominent medical and legal scholars are calling on colleges and universities nationwide to scrap their COVID-19 vaccination mandates, calling them unnecessary and potentially harmful to students.
In a recent article on Just The News, investigative journalist Greg Piper detailed arguments from several high-profile experts who were against the vaccination mandates, given that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t fully approved any of the vaccines approved for emergency use only in the United States.
In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Aaron Kheriaty, a specialist in psychiatry from the University of California, Irvine, and Gerard Bradley, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, said even soldiers, whose rights are constrained when they join the service, are not compelled to take vaccines.
They cited a case involving a vaccine against the potentially fatal disease anthrax. A federal district judge ruled in 2004 that the U.S. can’t demand that soldiers “serve as guinea pigs for experimental drugs.” The following year, the judge held that an emergency use authorization from the FDA was insufficient to meet the legal test.
College vaccination mandates are unethical
In their op-ed piece, succinctly titled “University vaccine mandates violate medical ethics,” Kheriaty and Butler also countered the idea that immunization is for students’ own good. With COVID-19, the risks of serious morbidity and mortality are close to zero in young children, adolescents and adults below 30 years.
They also noted that those groups face an increased risk of heart inflammation or myocarditis, an adverse side effect that has already been reported in scores of adolescents and young adults following COVID-19 vaccination. A June 10 review from the FDA itself indicated an excess risk for heart inflammation, particularly among men aged 30 years and under, following COVID-19 vaccination.
In addition, college vaccination mandates ignore the vast number of students who have already recovered from COVID-19 and, as such, already possess natural immunity. A study published in May in the journal Nature suggested that natural immunity is more robust and durable than immunity acquired from a vaccine.
Plus, there is no epidemiological evidence that vaccinating recovered individuals improves relevant clinical outcomes, such as transmissibility and the risk of reinfection.
What’s more, students’ records of previous infection can be verified via their colleges or universities’ records of testing throughout the past school year. Those records can prove that a student has either natural immunity from being infected previously or vaccine immunity.
Overall, coercive vaccination mandates violate basic principles of medical ethics, wrote Kheriaty and Butler. Even if the COVID-19 vaccines receive full approval from the FDA, no sensible understanding of herd immunity can justify forcing vaccinations on young healthy adults who are at minimal risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19, especially those who were previously infected and recovered successfully.
Children aren’t inoculated against diseases that largely harm older adults in the hopes of curbing transmission among the latter group. If so, the children would be used as a means to another end, which would be unethical. The same can be said for forcing vaccinations on college and university students.
“We must maintain our integrity under pressure,” added Kheriaty and Butler. “It is precisely in dire situations, such as wars or pandemics, that we are most sorely tempted to abandon ethical principles.”
College vaccination mandates “harm public health”
In another recent op-ed piece Piper cited, Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, the idea that everyone must be vaccinated against COVID-19 is dangerous for public health for a number of reasons.
First, medical interventions should pass the test of providing more benefits than risks. For COVID-19 vaccines, this is true for older populations but less so for younger ones. In fact, scientists will not know enough about rare and serious adverse reactions among younger populations until a few years after vaccine approval.
Therefore, even a slight risk of a serious vaccine adverse reaction, such as myocarditis, could tip the benefit-risk calculation, making COVID-19 vaccines more harmful than beneficial for children and young adults.
“Under such certainty, vaccine mandates are unethical,” wrote Kulldorff and Bhattacharya. As such, university presidents shouldn’t mandate a medical intervention that could have dire consequences for the health of people in their charge.
Kulldorff and Bhattacharya also noted that recovered COVID-19 patients have natural, long-lasting protection, especially against severe symptoms. Therefore, it makes no sense to require vaccines even for recovered patients. Those people could end up unnecessarily facing an increased risk of adverse side effects.
Another reason college vaccination mandates harm public health is the fact that older, high-risk individuals in several other countries have yet to be vaccinated. Every dose given to a low-risk individual in the U.S. means one fewer dose available for a high-risk older individual in countries still dealing with growing numbers of infections. (Related: China to change definition of coronavirus “infection” again in pursuit of fewer cases.)
Visit Vaccines.news for more articles with updates on the progress of COVID-19 vaccination in the U.S.