Fight the Machine, File for an Exemption!

by James A. Bacon

The Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Virginia Tech delivered a petition with about 500 signatures urging the university to end a policy requiring students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to take classes in the fall, reports The Center Square.

“This arbitrary order is a blatant violation of the students’ rights to medical freedom,” said Ian Escalante, a YAL regional director. “It is time for us to set the government school system straight, and let them know that they will not be controlling our students.”

Virginia Tech had no response to the petition other than to refer to a previous statement by President Timothy Sands: “During the past two semesters, we weathered significant surges in COVID-19 cases in Blacksburg. We did this through robust testing, self-quarantine, masking, and physical distancing. We must do everything possible to avoid repeating the challenges of the last 14 months. … It is essential that every student who can be vaccinated, is vaccinated.”

No, it is not essential that every student be vaccinated. COVID-19 survivors don’t need to be vaccinated. That suggests to me that there might be a more effective way to fight the bureaucratic machinery at Virginia Tech (and other universities) than petitioning to abolish the vaccination requirement altogether.

There is a delicate balancing act between safeguarding the public good while respecting individuals’ rights. University policies should strive to find the optimal trade-off between the two.

I have yet to see an argument for requiring COVID-19 survivors from getting the vaccination. Naturally acquired immunities are likely just as effective and long-lasting as resistance acquired from vaccinations. That point has not been “proven” in FDA-sanctioned, randomized, double-blind clinical trials. But, then, neither have any of the vaccinations that have been approved under Emergency Use Authorization.

Reasonable people can agree that COVID survivors should be exempt from the blanket decrees. As it happens, Tech does provide exemptions based on sincerely held religious beliefs or medical reasons. Here is the form for Tech’s Certification of Medical Exemption.

I got to thinking. Perhaps students with naturally acquired COVID-19 immunities could apply for medical exemptions.

There are demonstrable risks associated with taking COVID-19 vaccines. To be sure, they are very small. But they are non-trivial. As of July 1, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has reported 26,729 adverse events for COVID-19 vaccines. In a population of more than 300 million people, that’s one adverse event per 10,000 people. But the risk to young people who have acquired natural immunities is likewise miniscule.

One can make a reasonable argument that the COVID-19 vaccination would expose a COVID survivor to unnecessary risk while doing nothing to reduce the risk to others.

Perhaps the Young Americans for Liberty should start a movement in which COVID survivors file for medical exemptions. The key is to find physicians who are willing to sign the certifications. I’m willing to bet that hundreds of such physicians can be found across Virginia.

University administrators can ignore petitions. But they can’t ignore their own rules.