Why Mandate COVID Vaccinations for Low-Risk Populations?

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia announced Tuesday that it was extending its COVID-19 vaccination mandate from students to faculty and staff. The university will provide exemptions for religious and medical reasons, but non-vaccinated faculty and staff will be required to submit to weekly COVID-19 tests if they are to return to the university grounds this fall, reports UVA Today.

As in the past, UVa officials offered no medical or scientific justification for the mandates. Rector James Murray has said that the university followed “advice from doctors, infectious disease specialists and public health experts at the UVA Medical School and Health System.” But the university has refused to release documents detailing that advice on the grounds that they are President Jim Ryan’s “working papers.”

Presumably, the mandate could be justified on the public health grounds that unvaccinated individuals are potential carriers of the COVID virus, strains of which are significantly more infectious than a year ago. If students and employees wish to participate in the university community, they need to be vaccinated to protect others, if not themselves. But college-age students are at significantly lower risk of infection than the general population, and some evidence suggests that students who have caught the virus are as protected from reinfection as people who have received the vaccine.

There is growing sentiment in the medical community that COVID-19 vaccines are not as risk-free as commonly portrayed. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, Joseph a. Ladapo and Harvey A. Risch, a UCLA associate professor of medicine and a Yale epidemiologist respectively, say that medical risks posed by the vaccines may outweigh the risks of non-vaccination for young people and those with previous exposure to the virus.

Four patterns have emerged from reports filed with the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the authors say: low platelets (thrombocytopenia); noninfectious myocarditis, or heart inflammation, especially for those under 30; deep-vein thrombosis; and death. VAERS records 321 cases of myocarditis within five days of people receiving a vaccination. The findings warrant further study, but the implication is that the risks of a COVID -19 vaccine “may outweigh the benefits from certain low-risk populations, such as children, young adults, and people who have recovered from Covid-19. This is especially true in regions with low levels of community spread, since the likelihood of illness depends on exposure risk.”

The issues raised by Ladapo and Risch are particularly pertinent for universities, more than 400 of which across the country have enacted similar vaccination mandates, according to published reports.

As part of its epidemic-fighting measures last year, UVa conducted frequent testing and identified roughly 2,800 students who had contracted the virus. As Ladapo and Risch point out, “Not a single published study has demonstrated that patients with a prior infection benefit from COVID-19 vaccination.”

The university already has these people in its records. What justification is there for compelling them to put themselves at risk from the vaccine (small though it may be) in order to provide zero benefit to the public health? UVa refuses to say. Universities are supposed to be bastions of free inquiry and intellectual openness. Isn’t it common sense to share the scientific knowledge behind the vaccination mandate? Isn’t an informed public better equipped to deal with the virus than an ignorant public?

UVa’s refusal to disseminate the science behind its decision prompts suspicions that something else is going on.

Ladapo and Risch suggest that the vaccination issue has become so politicized that an honest discussion of the cost-benefit tradeoffs are being suppressed. I would argue that a herd instinct is at work as well. When everyone else is mandating vaccinations — Inova Health System, the dominant health provider in Northern Virginia, is also requiring vaccinations of all employees, it was reported today — there is safety in the herd. No explanation required.

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47 responses to “Why Mandate COVID Vaccinations for Low-Risk Populations?”

  1. Matt Adams Avatar
    Matt Adams

    “UVa’s refusal to disseminate the science behind its decision prompts suspicions that something else is going on.”

    Their reluctance to provide their rationale is disturbing, however since they’ve now applied the mandate to all parties it will probably pass legal review. It also places their position inline with most other University and or Schools.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      What would you have them do? Reprint the reams and reams of existing data on the effectiveness of these vaccines? Provide a link to CDC and FDA? The rationale is they don’t want this shit virus circulating on their property and among their people, and getting to near full vaccination is the way you do that. End of rationale.

      I’ve seen or heard nothing to date that indicates the risk of these vaccines comes anywhere near cancelling the benefit. There does seem to be consensus that if you were previously sick, a single shot may be all you need.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        But 2 shots always makes a better cocktail.

      2. Matt Adams Avatar
        Matt Adams

        They were asked to provide their working papers regarding why vaccine and only vaccine is acceptable. The previously argument raised on here was predicated upon immunity through infection and why that wasn’t acceptable.

        Oh and you’re better than strawman arguments.

      3. DJRippert Avatar

        The risk of the vaccination to somebody who has already contracted COVID and gotten better is infinite vs the reward since there is no reward.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          DJ – have you read about the Delta variant and it’s much higher level of infection – including some concerns it could re-infect those who had gotten covid from earlier variants?

          The CDC guidelines – say that people who got COVID should STILL get vaccinated because the vaccines are believed to better protect against the evolving variants.

          The point here is what do we know at this point? This is why the CDC is recommending vaccines even for the prior infected.

          That’s enough for institutions like UVA to base a policy on. What more do you want? That UVA actually provide the science that led to the guidance?

      4. Steve, you’re totally missing the point of the post. The critique is focused on students (and faculty and staff) who have been documented to have been infected by the virus. They are as low-risk to others as vaccinated people are. Why expose COVID survivors to the risk, small though it may be, of the vaccination? That is a legitimate question. let’s see UVa’s answer. Oh, I’m sorry, they won’t share it. Maybe they don’t have an answer.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar

          The delta variant is several times more infectious than the prior variants and is feared to re-infect those who got the prior variants. The bottom line is that they don’t know with certainty – but again, why would you want to risk it to start with?

          1. Merchantseamen Avatar

            “Delta Variant”. What hogwash. This is a distraction to keep the people in fear. And the sheeple suck it up like mothers milk. If I remember my history correctly. Some toothbrush mustache wearing psycho and his followers pointed at the Jews for all their troubles for some 15 years. Hmmmm?

  2. bodkinpoint Avatar

    I believe that there is a missing “not” on this sentence: There is growing sentiment in the medical community that COVID-19 vaccines are as risk-free as commonly portrayed.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Shh….it is equally correct the way it reads. 🙂

      1. bodkinpoint Avatar


    2. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      You’re right!

      There is growing sentiment in the medical community that COVID-19 vaccines are as risk-free as commonly not portrayed.

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Based on reported cases of myocarditis, as either a result of a Covid infection versus a Covid vaccine, it appears a person under 30 is still far better off taking the vaccine than getting an infection.



    Provided, of course, you’re under 30 and care about heart disease.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      I even heard that from a physician on Fox yesterday, citing the head of pediatric cardiology at his university. This continue effort to actively discourage vaccination is disturbing. Dr. Gottlieb, who I’ve found so far is the best on-air analyst, is predicting a significant surge again later this year among the unvaccinated. That means a big hit in many parts of Virginia. I understand why the universities want to build a firewall. When the turnout drops in SW Virginia red counties, the Republicans are going to pay a price.

      1. Publius Avatar

        I would have them read the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom and the FDA guidance on right to refuse. But, other than that, no problem…

        1. I’m still curious about this position and how it seems to conflict with other mandated requirements: other vaccines (mumps, measles…) to attend school, speed limits, paying taxes…. Refusal to be vaccinated for COVID seems political rather than logical, but I’m interested in why that may be wrong. No argument with religious or medical exemptions.

          1. Publius Avatar

            It is far more than just that it is an EUA vaccine. Why is abortion “constitutional?” General principles of liberty and the 4th amendment, privacy, and medical confidentiality. Any government action impinging on personal liberty needs to have a compelling interest. Somehow, Christian Scientists and Amish and anti-vaxers have not caused the end of the world. We know how to handle COVID. Under 30 at almost no risk. Had COVID, you have immunity which is arguably, and quite logically, better than the vax. There is a SIMPLE solution. Drop the mandate. Let people who wish to get vaccinated get vaccinated. The world will continue.

          2. Thanks. There is personal liberty in this situation. People have a choice to attend a school or work at a company that doesn’t have a mandate. How are they trampling on anyone’s 4th amendment rights?

          3. DJRippert Avatar

            Government must keep its hands off women’s bodies rail the progressives. Then they turn around and want to mandate vaccinations. Isn’t that government putting its hands on people’s bodies?

          4. LarrytheG Avatar

            Do you know of anyone who the Govt has “forced” to get vaccinated? I don’t.

            How about smoking in a public place?

            Is that your “right” without consequence?

            Under what law can the govt stop you ?

          5. Publius Avatar

            They came for the Communists, and I didn’t object
            – For I wasn’t a Communist;
            They came for the Socialists, and I didn’t object
            – For I wasn’t a Socialist;
            They came for the labor leaders, and I didn’t object
            – For I wasn’t a labor leader;
            They came for the Jews, and I didn’t object
            – For I wasn’t a Jew;
            Then they came for me
            And there was no one left to object.

            Martin Niemoller, German Protestant Pastor, 1892-1984

            Larry – demanding the experts justify their actions is good civics.
            Try to come up with an argument that isn’t a stupid one.
            Why not restrict all engines to a maximum of 55?
            Why not outlaw alcohol?
            Why not just execute people who don’t do what Larry says?
            (cue Louis Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World”)

          6. WayneS Avatar

            Smoking in public places can harm people other than oneself.

            Not getting vaccinated harms only oneself – and possibly others who have not been vaccinated.

            Akin to smoking in a smoking section… 😉

          7. LarrytheG Avatar

            where are the smoking sections now?

            How about smoking in a public space other than an eatery, just any public space?

            Do you AGREE that the Govt HAD DETERMINED that second-hand smoke IS harmful and thus it is true that some behaviors of people CAN BE determined to be a risk to others?

            Can the Govt make such a determination – legally? Constitutionally?

            Or is second-hand smoke – a unique and one-off situation and govt cannot make other such determinations?

          8. WayneS Avatar

            The main difference, and it is not unimportant, is that unlike other required vaccines, the Covid vaccines have not yet received full FDA approval. This means that requiring a person to receive the vaccine is effectively the same as requiring them to be part of a medical experiment, albeit a widespread and probably low-risk experiment.

          9. That’s fair enough, but no one is being compelled to be vaccinated. They actually do have a choice.

            Also, where does the Declaration of Independence come into play here?

          10. Publius Avatar

            The University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson. Author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for religious freedom. If you are in charge at such a place, perhaps you would pay attention to his positive legacy.
            The Declaration – endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights…AMONG these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In other words, as a basic governing principle, people have the right to order their lives as they wish (and the same as to religion). For a subject with GREAT uncertainty, mandating ONE answer is the ultimate in hubris. Jefferson would trust people to make their own decisions. UVA’s refusal to subject the mandate decision to review is not a “pursuit of truth” nor does it show “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind” to quote somebody kind of famous there…

            There is such a simple solution – drop the mandate and let those who wish to get vaccinated get vaccinated. Then you don’t violate the 1st and 4th Amendments and HIPAA and FDA Right to Refuse and Civil Rights. The exemptions are designed to force vaccination. They create a second class of citizens and violate civil rights. Seriously, you people need to open your eyes at where this will stop if not stopped now…just sayin’

          11. Thanks for the response. I don’t think you directly addressed my comment regarding personal liberty to choose a different school or business and lots of things to argue there, e.g., HIPAA has zero relevance here and what TJ would think isn’t really important, but I asked and you answered. Thanks, I appreciate your view.

          12. Publius Avatar

            Posting your medical record to the Healthy Hoos portal and disclosing your medical info violates the 4th Amendment and 50 years of a right to kill unborn babies. So, my body my choice for an act that might be construed as infanticide as a woman’s right to choose (personal liberty and privacy) but not for refusing an injection for a disease that is not deadly? The male and female students do not have the authority to make that decision of what they believe is in their best interests?

            The private employer dodge is also crap – why then can’t I mandate you have to vote a certain way to work in my company? This is a fascistic slope and everybody needs to wake up. Get vaccinated if you want. Don’t mandate it.
            We know mumps, measles, polio is safe. We have years and years of data. We do not have it here.
            Also, the HUBRIS of mandating ONE solution. There is so much not known – the CDC FDA VDH don’t KNOW. They are saying what they THINK AT THIS TIME. As a free American, you don’t have the right to make your own decision? Oh, you do – here is the FDA guidance –

            How will vaccine recipients be informed about the benefits and risks of any vaccine that receives an EUA?
            FDA must ensure that recipients of the vaccine under an EUA are informed, to the extent practicable given the applicable circumstances, that FDA has authorized the emergency use of the vaccine, of the known and potential benefits and risks, the extent to which such benefits and risks are unknown, that they have the option to accept or refuse the vaccine, and of any available alternatives to the product. Typically, this information is communicated in a patient “fact sheet.” The FDA posts these fact sheets on our website.

            Finally, the so called exemption protocols are a joke – they create a second class of students and violate civil rights – equal opportunity. Additionally, the religious one is blatantly unConstitutional, but other than that, I have no problem with the mandate.

            I repeat – let the people who want to get vaccinated get vaccinated. Then they can drop all the enforcement protocols – think of the savings! How many students can have their educations paid for with that savings?

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    The big threat right now is mutation of the virus into more and more “efficient” variants that are not only more infectious, but infecting younger age groups. The more opportunities the virus has to mutate, the more likely it will expand it’s ability to infect other age groups.


    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Hey Larry! Did you see this?

      It’s different when a pretty little white girl F-bombs her school… but then it has nothing to do with race when it’s effing UVa.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I did. she did that on snapchat, right? She’s allowed to do that IMHO but if she was an employee of some company and “effed” them, time to leave anyhow… eh?

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      The question of durable protection from a previous infection remains a controversy. Evidence is strong the vaccines work against the later variants, but does previous infection? If CDC and others keep saying that the vaccine is still indicated for those previously infected, that is all the justification the universities need.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        This is not direct response to Steve, I’m just adding on to a point:

        This really does illustrate how the “science” is evolving, and with more and more understanding and knowledge gained as time goes by – and from that – new guidance, changes in guidance.

        This is the way that science works. It does not ever provide the truth from on high, never for it to change. It provides us with the best knowledge they have – at a point in time – and it can and will change as more knowledge is gained.

        These newer mutating variants are a clear and present danger.

        The idea that UVA needs to provide it’s rationale so that the skeptics can litigate it gets us nowhere.

  5. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    Surprising to me more folks >70% are not getting the vaccines. I believe Fairfax Co. progress is about the same as rest of Virginia, now just hitting 70%, and the vaccines have long been easily available to all residents 12+ here. As always on this COVID matter, I am suspecting Virginia officials have some clue who is not getting the vaccines , but do not want to share that info.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Plenty of counties are still well below 50 or even 40% vaccine penetration. Most outside Northern VA, really. Others with good penetration outside of Nova include the Richmond suburbs and up 64 toward Charlottesville or out to Williamsburg. Stay the hell out of points west of Roanoke when the surge returns….

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Unless you’re vaccinated.

      2. WayneS Avatar

        Why? I have been vaccinated.

        1. Stephen Haner Avatar
          Stephen Haner

          Fair point…

  6. Carolyn Worssam Avatar
    Carolyn Worssam

    We the People have forgotten the rights afforded to us by God. No government or “College” can mandate that any human take anything, see the 4th Amendment. Parents and Students should ask these Colleges and Universities these questions: 1. Are the “vaccines” experimental (they are). 2. Has the FDA approved them (it hasn’t). 3. Are the “vaccines currently in clinical trials (they are until 2023) 5. Are they classified as gene therapeutics (yes, in case of Pfizer and Moderna) 6. Ask for cumulative studies on health outcomes by the CDC (there are none) 7. Ask if vaccinated persons are at greater risk of contracting other diseases than unvaccinated person (according to the NIH that is the case) 8. State that you wish to review answers to safety given to you in writing in your in your home. Look up The Nuremberg Code: “The Rights of Individuals Must Come First”. The chose is yours not a College, Universities or the Government. The information posted here and more can be found at https://nojabforme.info/ on that site you can read the “Virginia State Vaccine Requirements” and much much more.

  7. WayneS Avatar

    “The University of Virginia announced Tuesday that it was extending its COVID-19 vaccination mandate from students to faculty and staff. ”

    Well, that was one way to go…

    1. DJRippert Avatar

      I have to say I’m glad to hear that. It only took – what? – a month for Jim Ryan to screw up the courage to tell his own employees they have to go through the same mandates as the kiddies.

  8. Walter Smith, who initiated the FOIA request for the reasoning behind the vaccine mandate, has received this response from Jim Ryan:

    Thank you for writing and sharing your concerns about the COVID vaccine.

    In response to the concerns you’ve raised regarding your daughter’s COVID health history and the mandated COVID vaccine, I can share that we’ve worked closely with our public health and infectious disease partners—as we have throughout the pandemic—to adhere to best medical practices. In deciding to mandate vaccines for students, we are following the guidance of the Virginia Department Health (VDH) (Vaccination FAQ – COVID-19 FAQ (virginia.gov)) and CDC (Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination | CDC), which clearly state for those who have previously contracted the disease to still be vaccinated. The CDC also discusses the benefits of receiving the vaccine here.

    You can learn more about the University mandate on our vaccination FAQ page and the full list of U.S. colleges requiring the COVID vaccine here. If you and your daughter have any additional questions about her situation, I’ve copied Dr. Chris Holstege, Executive Director of Elson Student Health Center, as I know he would be happy to speak to you.

    1. UVa is governed by the state, so it is plausible to say that it must adhere to the guidelines of all other state agencies. I wonder why they couldn’t have said this from the beginning. And I’d like to know the VDH’s logic. I supposed we’ll have to go through the entire process again.

    2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

      I ran into the issue in my community activity, where we are asking in person participants to be COVID vaccinated through June. One rationale: some people are avoiding vaccine if they already had COVID.

  9. Deborah Hommer Avatar
    Deborah Hommer

    Quote: ‘The government is not being transparent about the risks’: Inventor of MRNA vaccines says people should not be forced to take experimental COVID vaccines because risks aren’t known and under 18s and those who’ve had virus shouldn’t take it
    Dr. Robert Malone, inventor of mRNA technology that’s used in the COVID vaccine, said young adults and teens shouldn’t be forced to get the vaccine
    He told Fox’s Tucker Carlson that there isn’t enough risk-benefit analysis data for that age group
    Earlier today, a CDC advisory group said there is a ‘likely link’ between rare cases of heart inflammation in that age group and the COVID-19 vaccine

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