Ivy League schools are still refusing to teach students in-person who are not up to date with their Covid vaccines — in a move slammed as ‘senseless’ and ‘non-scientific’.
Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Pennsylvania have the most stringent mandates that make having the new bivalent booster a condition of entry.
This means students at those schools who have already received four of the older shots would still need to get the new shot to continue their studies.
The rest of the Ivy League universities demand at least two Covid jabs, with some requiring a booster too. Multiple experts told DailyMail.com the mandate ‘does not make sense’ now that evidence shows the vaccines do not prevent transmission on a large scale.
Half the Ivy League universities require students to have the bivalent Covid shot to continue their studies
Students who do not comply will not be allowed to attend in-person classes
It comes as the US continues to mandate the Covid vaccine for foreigners visiting from other countries. It is the only country in the West to still do so.
There is little evidence mandates have ever stopped transmission, though the shots are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death.
Dr Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told DailyMail.com: ‘The people who benefit from boosters, as has been shown by studies performed by the CDC and in the UK, fall into four groups: people who are elderly, people who have multiple comorbidities, and people who are immune compromised, and women who are pregnant.
‘But healthy young people, such as most of the people who are attending Harvard [and other universities], don’t fall into those groups. What a vaccine will provide is short-lived immunity against mild illness, and I just don’t see that as a viable public health strategy.’
He added that most hospitals don’t even require a bivalent booster for staff or visitors, despite the fact that ‘hospitals take care of vulnerable patients, many of whom can’t be successfully vaccinated’.
Bob Moffit, a senior research fellow at the center for health and welfare policy studies at the right-wing think-tank Heritage Foundation, told DailyMail.com ‘there is no scientific justification for Harvard or any other university for coercing healthy young men and women to get a Covid vaccine.’
He said: ‘The data is overwhelming: young and healthy persons have faced extremely low risk from severe illness, hospitalization and death from Covid-19.
‘The vaccine does, in fact, carry some small risk, particularly to young males, of myocarditis.
‘Whenever there is a personal risk from a medical intervention, including a vaccine, the ethical imperative is personal choice, not institutional coercion.’
Harvard University requires all on-campus students to have a primary series of Covid shots plus the bivalent booster. Its staff are not required to get the booster
Yale University similarly requires students to have the bivalent shot
Dr Monica Gandhi, medical director of the San Francisco General Hospital HIV Clinic, Ward 86, told DailyMail.com she did not see ‘any evidence to mandate the bivalent booster for students at universities like Harvard given that they are generally young people’.
She added: ‘The school[s] can no longer mandate the bivalent vaccine for the benefit of transmission prevention.
‘There is a lot of population level immunity in the US at this point and vaccine mandates do not make sense at this phase of the pandemic.’
Private companies and venues across the US are still able to enforce vaccine mandates, such as hospitals, as are state employees in some areas.
Covid vaccine policies for Ivy League universities
Yale – primary series plus bivalent booster
Harvard – primary series plus bivalent booster
Columbia – primary series plus all boosters when eligible
Pennsylvania – primary series plus all boosters when eligible
Dartmouth – primary series and one booster dose when eligible
Brown – primary series and one booster dose when eligible
Princeton – primary series only
Cornell – primary series only
The CDC deems a primary series to be two-doses of the Covid vaccine.
The Ivy League universities’ requirements stands even if students have had Covid, despite studies showing natural immunity provides significant protection.
Dr Anna Durbin, director of the Center for Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told DailyMail.com: ‘We know that the vaccines may not reduce transmission for more than a few months and that severe Covid is rarely seen in younger individuals.
‘It is unclear what effect the booster dose will have in this population in terms of disease reduction.’
Made by Moderna and Pfizer, the bivalent (or updated) booster dose became available in the US from September last year.
The updated vaccines were advertised as being able to boost protection against Omicron subvariants that have become world-dominant.
But a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released in January suggested most Americans who get their bivalent booster vaccine are not protected against falling sick with Covid.
It found the updated shots were just 48 percent effective at stopping symptomatic infection caused by the XBB.1.5 subvariant, the currently dominant variant, for up to three months.
The CDC highlighted that the main purpose of the vaccines is to prevent hospitalization and death rather than transmission, and they are still expected to give high protection against severe illness.
But the findings mean the bivalent shots – which the US Government paid $5billion for last autumn – fall short of the World Health Organization’s 50 percent efficacy threshold for an effective vaccine.
Columbia University requires all staff and students to have their primary series plus all boosters when eligible
According to CDC data, so only 16 percent of the US population have received the updated Covid booster shot.
Harvard’s vaccine requirement policy, updated February 2023, states: ‘Harvard requires the new bivalent Covid-19 booster for all eligible students with an on-campus presence.’
Students must prove they are up to date with all of Harvard’s vaccine requirements via the Harvard patient portal before they can register for classes.
Exceptions will be provided only for medical or religious reasons, the university said.
Meanwhile, Harvard ‘highly recommends’ that its employees with an on-campus presence get the booster, and current staff no longer need to prove their vaccination status.
New employees must provide evidence that they have had their primary series of Covid shots.
Similarly, Yale only requires its students and not teachers to get the bivalent shot.
Columbia University’s mandates is more universal, requiring all staff and students to have their primary series plus all boosters when eligible.
If students are not jabbed and cannot provide an exemption, they will not be able to attend in-person classes, or even study at the university at all.
Early last year, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention warned that young males who had received the mRNA vaccines — either the Pfizer or Moderna shot were at an increased risk of suffering heart inflammation.
The agency warned that myocarditis was appearing more frequently in males 16 and older within seven days of receiving the shot.