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Stanford COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Mandate Faces Pushback As Deadline Looms

STANFORD (KPIX 5) – Some students at Stanford University are pushing back on a COVID-19 vaccine booster mandate as the school sets a January 31 deadline to receive the shot.

University officials said 95% of all Stanford students, faculty and personnel have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. But at the end of the month, Stanford will require everyone to be boosted as well.

The school delayed a return to in-person classes after the winter break because of the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

First year PhD student Monte Fischer is back and is looking for the university to reverse its position on their booster mandate.

"Students should be able to look and evaluate the evidence on their own and compare with their own risk tolerance about whether they should get boosted and make that decision themselves. I thought it was wrong to mandate away that freedom for students," Fischer told KPIX 5.

Fischer said has two vaccine doses and caught COVID-19 over the winter break. He says the university is not weighing the potential risks of the booster to younger people and that the booster is not stopping the transmission of omicron.

"Most students are undergrads or graduate students in their 20s or teens. CDC numbers suggest this age cohort is at really low risk of serious illness and the booster itself comes with some risks associated - specifically with heart inflammation, myocarditis," he said.

Dr. George Rutherford from UCSF said the risk of myocarditis from the booster is overstated and said it should be referred to as a third-dose, not a booster.

"The booster is really not a booster per se. It's the 3rd dose of a three dose series," Rutherford told KPIX 5. "Ten years from now when we're giving this as a routine vaccination, we'll think of it as a three dose series that you get at zero, 1 and six months. Just like we do with hepatitis b vaccine, for example. The idea that this an optional booster to boost your immunity is incorrect. You need this to complete the series."

Fischer has posted a petition online that has nearly 2,000 signatures and is gaining traction on social media.

In a statement to KPIX 5, the university issued a statement about the booster mandate:

"Our booster requirement, for students who are eligible, is intended to support sustained immunity against COVID-19 and is consistent with the advice of county and federal public health leaders. A high level of immunity within our student community will help us continue in-person educational activities and puts us in a better position to deal with the risk of future variants, especially in our students' congregate living settings," university officials said.

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