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Vaccinated Stanford Physics PhD Student Warned: Accept Booster or Get Deported

Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: April 2, 2022
A Stanford physics PhD student says he, his wife, and his child face deportation unless they acquiesce to the school's requirement he accept a COVID-19 booster by April.
A view of Hoover Tower through the arches of the Main Quadrangle on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. A physics PhD student has said he, his wife, and his child are facing the threat of deportation unless he accepts a third booster injection required to enroll in April. (Image: David Madison/Getty Images)

An international student at Stanford University used one of America’s largest publications to sound an alarm after facing the threat of effective expulsion, and therefore, deportation, because of refusing to accept a Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) booster shot.

In an opinion article published in Newsweek on March 31, author and Stanford Physics PhD student Diogo Bragança detailed how the university issued a regulation this spring mandating that all students must accept at least three COVID shots to be admitted to the campus and classes, regardless of if they are held online or offline, on penalty of not being able to enroll for the upcoming semester.

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“Several aspects of the Stanford booster mandate render it particularly irrational,” Bragança argued. “The university requires students to be boosted—even those whose classes are all online and who live off-campus—but not staff or professors, who are older and arguably more at risk.”

Bragança noted that the gene therapy COVID vaccines have a scientifically well-established risk profile that includes not only lower efficacy against infection and transmission, especially against Omicron, for his age and gender, but a significant risk of myocarditis that increases with the number of injections.

“Based on these medical facts, I decided to get two doses of the vaccine last year. Despite being vaccinated, I nevertheless contracted and recovered from a mild case of COVID this past January,” he said.

“The epidemiological evidence is overwhelming that vaccinated and COVID-recovered people like me have stronger immunity against reinfection and disease transmission than even vaccinated and boosted people who have never had COVID.”

“I have determined that I do not need a booster and would only receive one as a result of Stanford’s coercive mandate.”

The student stated that when he contacted Stanford about the concern, “They rebuffed me, saying their mandate should not be considered coercive.”

Bragança, who is a native of Portugal, argued that he, his wife, and his child, may lose their residence permits if his enrollment at Stanford is scrapped.

“It is painful to realize that my school is twisting my arm with the threat of visa cancellation while claiming that I am not forced to do anything. Many students will comply unwillingly with the mandate because they do not want to disrupt their future careers.”

Bragança continued, “And although it is forcing students to take the booster, Stanford is unwilling to take liability or pay for the consequences of any serious side effects that might occur.”

Pushback

Luckily, Bragança was not the only one fighting back against Stanford’s booster mandate. As many as 2,500 fellow students and supporters signed a petition calling for lifting the ban on unvaccinated and unboosted students.

Bragança says the petition was also accompanied with scientific documentation clarifying the erratic nature of the ruling. It was delivered to the school’s administration, which did not address the contents, let alone its scientific arguments.

“A December 14th announcement explained that COVID-19 vaccines are ‘most effective against the Omicron variant in individuals who have received both a full course of vaccination and a booster dose,’” the accompanying text of a publicly-signable petition on Change.org read. 

“Nothing else has been explained,” it continued. “Stanford has communicated neither the data on booster effectiveness, nor risks of heart inflammation from booster vaccination, nor the dramatically low risk that its student body faces from COVID-19 in the first place.”

In fact, Bragança’s case is not an isolated incident.

Similar cases

In October, UCLA student and conservative influencer Christian Walker received a phone call from an unidentified senior working for the college demanding he upload his vaccination status or face expulsion.

Walker, who happened to have 161.8 thousand followers on Twitter, recorded the conversation and exposed it to the public, infuriated because all of his classes are conducted online.

The tweet garnered so much media attention that UCLA had to walk back its decision, instead offering Walker a waiver to sign, declaring he will take full responsibility in case of any costs or injuries he might incur due to the disease.

In September, New Jersey student Logan Hollar was banned from Rutgers University. Hollar made the discovery after finding he was locked out of the Rutgers email system when he went to pay his tuition.

He hadn’t updated his vaccination status even while living in Sussex County, 70 miles from the campus, and never intended to attend classes in person.