Urgent Communication Regarding Booster Vaccination in the University of California System
January 7, 2022
To: Regents of the University of California
We are members of the University of California family – parents, students, faculty, staff, and alumni – writing this urgent letter of concern to you, in consultation with expert clinicians, to request a time critical modification to UC’s COVID-19 booster vaccine mandate.
All of us signing this letter, and especially our children who attend UC/CSU, have already complied with the University’s prior immunization requirements and approved exemptions.
Additionally, we fully understand and empathize with the difficult position the University administration finds itself in during this pandemic.
Nevertheless, we have very serious safety concerns about the recent vaccine booster mandate at UC and CSU. It’s clear that the University's administration has not exercised sufficient circumspection in creating clearly delineated medically rational “off-ramps” from the booster mandates for those who are already well-immune to COVID-19. It is a serious problem that a medically unnecessary third booster shot could prove dangerous and irreparably harmful in such already well-immune individuals.
Of particular concern is the rising rate of heart injury to our young people, and particluarly young men in the 18-25 year-old age group. The risk of vaccine-induced myocarditis is four times higher in kids who have been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Therefore, with this letter, we are respectfully requesting that UC administration formally exempt the following four groups of student, faculty, and staff from a vaccine booster mandate:
1) Individuals who, within the span of the past 12-24 months, have had a natural COVID-19 infection AND two mandated mRNA vaccine shots (OR the single shot J&J vaccine). These individuals are by clinical definition, very robustly immune. In fact, Dr. Anthony Fauci has labeled such persons, “bullet proof” with “hybrid immunity”. To vaccinate such already well-immune persons with an added booster by administrative mandate is medically unnecessary and, thus, only risks serious harm – possibly irreparably to some.
2) Individuals who had already received the prior mandated vaccinations, and who during this Christmas break experienced a “breakthrough infection” with the Delta or Omicron Variants. Like individuals in the first category above, COVID-19 immunity in these persons also meets the definition of “bullet proof hybrid immunity”. Additionally, to vaccinate such very recently infected/convalescent persons with a medically unnecessary booster vaccine carries a risk of triggering a dangerous hyperinflammatory response. This should be avoided at all costs.
3) Individuals whose second dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine was less than 6 months ago. As you know, according to current FDA guidance, boosters are approved only for persons who underwent vaccination at least 5 months prior to boost. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-expands-eligibility-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-booster-dose-16-and-17
4) Individuals, vaccinated or previously infected, in whom a licensed physician has ordered a personalized serological evaluation and attests that robust and protective COVID-19 immunity is already present. My own son falls in this category.
We know that your intent in imposing a booster vaccine mandate at UC is to protect the student, staff, and faculty as well as the community. However, in the rush to protect UC, we ask that you not lose sight of rational ethical reasoning - or of the very important principle of medical necessity. It is a vastly accepted truism that harm and irreparable damage to innocents in the minority, almost always resides in “one-size-fits-all” approaches to institutional and governmental policies and practices.
With this letter of petition, we ask that UC urgently shift its booster mandate policy to automatically exempt the large proportion of our community who fall within the above four categories.
We plead for your clarity and purity of intent.
Kristine Burke, MD, ABFM, ABoIM
- Bachelor of Science, University of California, Los Angeles (General Chemistry)
- Doctor of Medicine, University of California, Davis School of Medicine
- Medical Internship and Residency in Family and Community Medicine, UC Davis
- Sports Medicine Fellowship, UC Berkely/UC Davis
- Faculty Development Fellowship, UC San Francisco
- Board Certified in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine
- Board Certified in Integrative Medicine
- Assistant Clinical Professor in Preventive Medicine
- Physician, educator, and health advocate
Special thanks to Hooman Noorchashm MD, PhD who authored the Boston College COVID-19 Booster Mandate petition and whose original writing is included in and inspired this petition.
Kristine Burke, MD Contact the author of the petition
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