By Sarah Smith
COVID-19 vaccine mandates at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) should be rescinded immediately. These vaccine mandates are being applied to over 50,000 students and staff all over the state, including high school students attending dual credit classes. It is unethical and discriminatory to deny students and staff access to education and employment because of their COVID-19 vaccination status.
The New Mexico Department of Health has chosen to NOT mandate COVID-19 vaccines for school children, and they dropped their vaccine mandate for New Mexico teachers and state employees months ago. Universities all across the country have also been dropping their vaccine mandates since the Spring of 2022.
COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent either contracting or spreading the virus. Therefore, being vaccinated does not protect others from catching the illness. By now, the majority of people have already contracted COVID-19, and a recent study has shown that booster shots actually double the risk of reinfection in people who have already had the illness. (https://www.yahoo.com/news/covid-booster-may-lower-protection-161839527.html)
COVID-19 is well-acknowledged to be low risk for children and young adults. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, for ages 0-19 years old there is only a 0.7% hospitalization rate for COVID-19. Furthermore, children and young adults 0-19 years old have a 99.99% survival rate from the illness.
Meanwhile, multiple risks of COVID-19 vaccines have been acknowledged by the CDC. According to the CDC Fact Sheets, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines lead to increased rates of heart inflammation, especially in young people. The J&J vaccine fact sheet acknowledges that it increases the risk of blood clots, Guillain Barre syndrome, and immune thrombocytopenia (an autoimmune bleeding disorder where the person’s body is attacking the blood platelets).
Because of these issues, the state of Florida has been recommending against COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children since March 2022, and has recently recommended against mRNA vaccines for males 18-39 years old due to an observed 84% increase in cardiac-related deaths in the month following vaccination. (https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLDOH/bulletins/3312697) Countries such as the United Kingdom have stopped offering COVID-19 shots to healthy young people. And, the United Kingdom along with other countries such as Denmark, Australia, and Norway have also stopped recommending COVID-19 shots for healthy people under age 50-65.
Vaccine development typically takes 5-10 years, and there have been no long-term tests on COVID-19 vaccines. For instance, the clinical trials for both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are still ongoing now. Effects on fertility are of particular concern for young people, yet the clinical trials for pregnant women have also not yet been completed and long-term effects on fertility are unknown. Furthermore, a recent article by public health officials and epidemiologists, published in the BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics, concluded that “university booster mandates are unethical” and “may result in a net harm to healthy young adults.” The same article urged “universities and schools to rescind all COVID-19 vaccine mandates.” (https://jme.bmj.com/content/early/2022/12/05/jme-2022-108449)
UNM and NMSU should drop their vaccine mandates now. The shots have known risks including heart and blood problems, and the long-term risks are still unknown. Additionally, the vaccines do not prevent either catching or transmitting the virus. All students and staff have fundamental rights to education, employment, and bodily autonomy, and these rights are being infringed upon by UNM and NMSU’s vaccine mandates.
Sarah Smith is one of the leaders for both the New Mexico Freedoms Alliance and the National Coalition for Health Integrity.