Seven fully-vaccinated Stanford students test positive for coronavirus in a single week – all of whom are symptomatic
Stanford University officials confirmed the breakthrough infections in a letter to students on Thursday
All of the cases were confirmed in the last week and all were symptomatic
Stanford is among nearly 600 colleges nationwide that have required students and faculty to be vaccinated before coming back to campus this fall
At least seven fully-vaccinated students at Stanford University have tested positive for coronavirus.
Officials at the Ivy League school in California‘s Bay Area reported the breakthrough infections in a letter to students on Thursday.
They said all of the cases were confirmed in the last week and all seven students were symptomatic.
‘As you have seen in the national news, cases of COVID-19 have been ticking upward,’ officials wrote in the letter.
‘We are seeing some of this in our own community, where we are experiencing an increase in the number of student COVID cases, including among fully vaccinated individuals.’
Stanford is among nearly 600 universities and colleges nationwide that have required students and faculty to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before coming back to campus this fall.
The school is enforcing its mandate by requiring proof of vaccination status and says it will offer exemptions for religious or medical reasons on a case-by-case basis.
The likelihood of contracting coronavirus after being fully vaccinated is very low, with so-called ‘breakthrough’ cases representing only a small percentage of new cases reported around the US.
Experts have sought to quell concerns over such cases by reminding that COVID-19 vaccines are still highly effective in preventing severe symptoms, hospitalization and death.
Less than three percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are vaccinated, according to the CDC, and only 1,063 deaths have been reported among vaccinated people.
However there are fears that vaccines may not be as effective at battling new more contagious strains of the virus, including the Delta variant wreaking havoc nationwide.
At Stanford, officials have stressed the importance of vaccination while continuing to require face coverings across all open spaces on its 8,180-acre campus.
‘Vaccinations are effective at preventing severe illness. However, we need everyone to be vigilant,’ officials wrote in Thursday’s letter. ‘The variants remain of concern.’
According to the school’s dashboard, some 8,300 students are fully vaccinated and 330 are partially vaccinated.
The school recently loosened its coronavirus testing requirements, allowing for vaccinated students and staff to stop submitting to weekly tests and daily check-ins if they provide proof of vaccinations.
All undergraduate students preparing to return to campus this fall are required to submit proof of vaccination by July 23.
Anyone who misses that deadline will be barred from enrolling in classes.
It is unclear whether the school has granted any exemptions from the vaccine mandate.
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Stanford’s announcement about breakthrough cases could serve as fuel in the growing controversy over university vaccine mandates around the country.
As of Friday 592 US schools both public and private have imposed such mandates, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
While schools contend that they are merely protecting their communities, critics say the mandates represent a violation of personal freedom and called the efficacy of the vaccines themselves into question.
Eight states have passed laws blocking colleges from requiring vaccinations: Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Montana, Arizona and Utah.
A pivotal development in the case came earlier this week when a federal judge upheld Indiana University’s mandate after the school was sued by eight students demanding that it be overturned.
While many schools, like Stanford, offer exemptions, it is unclear how many have actually been granted.
Olivia Sandor, an 18-year-old from Hawaii, emerged as a face of the debate this week when she shared how she was denied admission from her dream school – Brigham Young University Hawaii (BYUH) – and lost out on $200,000 in scholarships because she would not get vaccinated due to a pre-existing medical condition.
Sandor said BYUH denied her fall admission due to state and college vaccination requirements, despite the fact that they had already awarded her scholarship money.
Sandor, who suffers from Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), told her story on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program on Monday night and explained how she’d requested an exemption from the school’s vaccination requirement after her team of medical providers advised against her getting the COVID-19 shot.
But the university denied her request for exemption – and told her to re-enroll after getting vaccinated.
Sandor developed GBS after receiving an influenza vaccine in 2019 and was paralyzed from the waist down for over a month as a result.
She said that while attending BYUH was her dream, the risks associated with the coronavirus vaccine do not outweigh the reward.
‘I do not want to relapse and have another episode of Guillain-Barre,’ she told Hannity. ‘It’s really, truly not worth it to me.’