• Doug Most

    Assistant VP, Executive Editor, Editorial Department Twitter Profile

    Doug Most is a lifelong journalist and author whose career has spanned newspapers and magazines up and down the East Coast, with stops in Washington, D.C., South Carolina, New Jersey, and Boston. He was named Journalist of the Year while at The Record in Bergen County, N.J., for his coverage of a tragic story about two teens charged with killing their newborn. After a stint at Boston Magazine, he worked for more than a decade at the Boston Globe in various roles, including magazine editor and deputy managing editor/special projects. His 2014 nonfiction book, The Race Underground, tells the story of the birth of subways in America and was made into a PBS/American Experience documentary. He has a BA in political communication from George Washington University. Profile

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There are 44 comments on BU to Require Faculty, Staff to Get Vaccinated for Fall Semester

      1. Absolutely. Everyone has to make the right decision for themselves and their loved ones – and we can only hope they are genuinely informed when they do so. It’s appalling that BU’s mandate no longer allows individuals to make that choice for themselves.

        In my personal experience the ‘science denying’ label is not only trite and lazy, it’s incredibly inaccurate – the people I know who choose not to get vaccinated are typically VERY well informed of the issues and associated research.

  1. Mandating an experimental drug with on-site requirements for ramen noodle wages. How disconnected are you? How is America any different from our neighbors when you dictate our personal choices and hand a paycheck over or heads.

    Only proves you’re as free as the influence you hold.

    1. How come there is no exemption for those employees that BU knows to have tested positive for covid? A prior infection provides immunity too. Some will argue that your level of immunity from a prior infection is unknown but we also know that breakthrough cases occur among the fully vaccinated too so we can reject the null hypothesis for the level of immunity provided by vaccination.

      BU needs to offer an exemption for those employees who have tested positive for covid. Although not approved by the CDC, BU could raise the bar higher by also offering antibody testing to those employees with a history of prior infection.

      If BU can mandate employees take a leaky vaccine that does not have full FDA approval, then it can also offer an antibody test that has not been approved by the CDC.

      1. Missy,

        I understand your train of thought, but BU cannot ask its employees to disclose their medical history. Yes, I understand that vaccination status is considered medical history, but this has Supreme Court precedent to stand upon when being asked. For BU to ask employees to say whether or not they have had COVID (which, along with documented proof that they have had it, is the only way to effectively determine who is forced to get the vaccine or not), would be a violation of HIPAA. Also, it would open BU up to possible litigation if one of these employees who disclose that they did have COVID were to be fired after disclosing. Regardless of reasoning, the employee could argue they were only fired because of their medical history.

        1. BU’s requirement that people have a negative a TB test should also be deemed a violation of HIPAA. A positive antibody test should be sufficient evidence of acquired immunity irrespective of the source.

      2. Faculty, staff, or affiliates who are concerned about receiving a Covid-19 vaccine after a recent Covid-19 infection may reach out to Healthway at 617-353-0550 to confidentially discuss their case and the vaccine requirement with one of our medical professionals.

      3. Prior Covid or prior positive test does not indicate immunity, or length of immunity if there is any – at this point it is unknown

    2. Hello Mr/Ms/Mx. Land of the Free?,

      Interesting argument you are making there. Let us break this down.

      1. Experimental drug? Well, I would argue against labeling the 3 COVID-19 vaccines as experimental. I see that people keep getting hung up on the fact that the vaccines were given an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) instead of full FDA approval. This was only done because COVID-19 hit the world like a semitruck in an intersection and nobody was ready for it. To stop mass death from occurring throughout the nation for years, the FDA deemed it necessary to approve the use of vaccines in a much faster way than their normal process (several years long). A EUA does not indicate that the vaccine was not tested. It indicates that vaccine testing was done with multiple steps occurring at the same time. Other vaccines that have been given EUA in the past were for Anthrax vaccines, drugs for H1N1, and Ebola and Zika testing procedures.

      2. Dictating our personal choices? Come on now, that has been going on for years and we have not heard people go up in arms about it (or at least they are no longer doing so, as they realized the thing they were yelling about was actually a good thing). Want to drive your car without a seatbelt on? Nope, not allowed. Want to ride your bike without a helmet? Not in this state buddy! How about build your home with steps that have a higher than 7 inch riser? Get out of here with that nonsense goodman! Smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol at the age of 15? Going to be a no for me dawg. There are boundaries placed all around us in an earnest effort to increase the general health of the public. COVID-19 vaccination for all staff/faculty members is one of those boundaries.

      You are considered a threat to public health if you are not vaccinated, as you can obtain COVID and pass it on to those that are unable to receive the vaccine (those taking chemo, those with HIV/AIDS, those on immunosuppressants due to an autoimmune disorder, etc.) Those that are vaccinated (by choice, that is) will always look at people like you as someone who is selfish, as we see you as caring more about the two days of discomfort post-vaccine more than you do people’s lives. And you’ll see us as sheep being led to our death by the big bad wolf that is America. To each their own I guess, but at least I will be both on the right side of history this time AND I’ll get to keep by cushy Boston University job.

      1. ‘Those that are vaccinated (by choice, that is) will always look at people like you as someone who is selfish’

        Decided to get the shot. Currently waiting for my second dose. That was my choice. But I will certainly never look at anybody that doesn’t want to get the shots as selfish. And I will never act self-righteous about my choice.

  2. Thank you for making the difficult but very necessary decision to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for faculty and staff. Not to undermine my sincere appreciation, but I would like to highlight the following: “These totals are significantly below what we need to safely return our campuses to near-normal operation in the fall.”

    If vaccination rates are significantly below what is required to safely return to campus this Fall, why are staff required to fully return to on-campus work as of August 16th, two and a half weeks prior to date by which vaccination is required? Not to mention the additional weeks required for the vaccine to be fully effective for those only just receiving one.

    If the safety of faculty and staff remains a top priority, the date by which staff are required to fully repopulate campus should align with the date by which vaccination rates support a safe repopulation, presumably no earlier than September 2nd.

    1. “If vaccination rates are significantly below what is required to safely return to campus this Fall, why are staff required to fully return to on-campus work as of August 16th, two and a half weeks prior to date by which vaccination is required?”

      This is the glaring inconsistency that needs to be addressed.

        1. Agreed on all of the above. Plus, at the most recent BU Town Hall, we were informed that campus should be at 100% capacity on August 2, which is now about 2 weeks away. As a result, many of us are coming back before the previously-quoted August 16 deadline.

          1. To Bill (because it seems your comment is too deep in the thread to reply to directly): You can still get it. You can still pass it on to others who are unvaccinated, even if you yourself will be fine.

            I’m vaccinated. So is my wife. She’s immunocompromised though, so no one knows if she is actually protected. Damn right I want everyone around me vaccinated so I know I’m doing all I can to keep her safe. I’m sure people with children under 12 feel the same way.

    2. Agreed. Address the return dates to align with vaccination requirements. Or do not allow / require unvaccinated employees to return until they are vaccinated. Deadline is fine. I understand giving more time to comply. But if it a big enough risk to require the compliance then they shouldn’t be on campus.

      1. @Bill. Many faculty and staff have children under 12 who have not yet been vaccinated, and with the Delta varient on the rise and the increasing number of breakthrough cases, I’d expect many have concerns about their unvaccinated family members. How we handle the pandemic at BU goes far beyond each individual faculty, staff and student, and the University has a responsibility to consider the larger implications of its policies.

  3. I’m very disappointing in the faculty rates. You would think that at an institute of higher learning, more people would follow the science.

    The vaccines are not 100% so even if you’ve had the virus, extra protection is necessary to protect yourself and others. Just because you have an air bag in your car, doesn’t mean you aren’t better off wearing a seat belt.

    For the prices our students pay to come to BU, they should be assured faculty and staff are vaccinated. Imaging going to a restaurant where employees are not required to wash their hands.

  4. Looks like a quarter of BU is “anti science”.
    The science shows 11,000 deaths from covid vaccines and 30,000 hospitalizations (https://www.openvaers.com/covid-data). To judge, the efficacy just look at Israel with nearly complete vaccination and cases growing. A bright future of a shot of ephemeral efficacy and safety every six months — a great future indeed.

    1. Elizabeth, let us break your comment down real quick.

      1. The VAERS Data is not a representation of cause-effect. From the VAERS website: “Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.” It is simply any event that occurs after vaccination get’s reported. If you notice, the majority of deaths listed occur the day of vaccination, which seems quite odd. I did not have any post-vaccination symptoms until after a full-day (obviously this could be different person to person though). Things like erectile dysfunction, tinnitus, and miscarriages are listed here. There has been no evidence of any kind to suggest that the vaccine is responsible for these events, so I view this line of thinking as being in the same ideation that vaccines cause autism.

      2. When you say “look at Israel with nearly complete vaccination and cases growing”, what dataset are you looking at? Only 57.9% of the country is vaccinated, so not exactly nearly complete vaccination (albeit this IS higher than the USA). I see that their case numbers have risen a good bit in the past two weeks, but I strongly believe (as does their Prime Minister) that this is caused by the rise in prominence of the Delta variant (near 200% more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain, so those who have not gotten vaccinated are now getting COVID at higher rates than before). However, this rise in cases has not resulted in a large rise in serious hospitalizations or deaths (these are near the same level as they were when cases were much lower). So yes, cases are rising (with a reasonable explanation) but deaths are hospitalizations are not. Seems like the vaccine is still having a very large impact.

      1. VAERS is the best data we have and it is not controlled by Big Money unlike CDC and FDA. Not to digress too much, but a former head of CDC (Julie Gerberding) got a job in the vaccine division at Merk. And we all remember 7% death rate from covid that came out of Fauci. There have been so many lies from the officials that there is absolutely no trust left. People are going through the courts to get doctors to treat them ivermectin even though numerous studies showed it efficacy and safety. Well, I guess if there is a treatment you cannot justify EUA.

        As far as Israel, it looks like you are saying that vaccine reduce symptoms, but not prevent infection. (The so-called clinical trial conducted by Pfizer established just that.) If so, vaccines provide only personal protection not community protection. Thus, there is no reason for them to be mandated. In fact the whole concept of heard immunity for rapidly evolving viruses is still quite questionable. I am not aware of any rapidly evolving disease for which a vaccination campaign was successful at eradicating it.

    2. I’m glad you brought up VAERS, a frequently cited source of evidence. The CDC, which created VAERS, includes the following disclaimer:

      ——————

      VAERS Limitations
      Because VAERS allows anyone to report possible side effects from vaccines, it includes reports that might or might not be caused by vaccines. VAERS is not designed to identify cause and effect. VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness. Some reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable. Most reports to VAERS are voluntary, which means they are subject to biases. Data from VAERS reports should always be interpreted with these limitations in mind.
      —————-

      There are many levels and types of scientific evidence. Reports such as those aggregated by VAERS are certainly useful, but are of very low quality and have minimal decision-making value.

      Thanks again for mentioning this frequent source of confusion.

  5. Thank you BU for making this decision which as a reminder does allow for exceptions based on medical conditions and religious beliefs. As a staff member, alumnus and parent of a current student I believe BU has been one of the safest places to work and study and this will continue with this policy based on science. One should expect nothing less from a top research university. Thank you again!

  6. Before folks jump on the bandwagon of “science” to endorse that all people must be vaccinated, please consider how the science applies to you may not produce the same answer when applied to someone else.

    Based on my age and other risk factors, it made sense for me to receive the vaccine. However, if I were a healthy 30 year old and had previously been exposed to the virus generating a level of natural immunity, the calculus may have been completely different. YMMV.

    We don’t know how many unvaccinated faculty and staff have developed natural immunity through exposure. The total vaccinated and naturally immune population may already be high enough to moot this compulsory vaccination policy. We also don’t know what the long term health implications are of receiving one of the available vaccines. I hope the issues are non-existent. But hope is not a strategy. Bad data doesn’t make good science.

    It’s incumbent on BU to both develop complete data and be respectful of the personal health decisions made by employees. In the end, only their “science” matters.

    1. I agree! The human body is an extremely complicated system that is fiendishly hard to predict.

      Let me give you an example: the data coming out of Israel right now suggest that, though the unvaccinated represent the large fraction of current hospitalizations, those who have been exposed naturally to the virus appear to have much stronger protection against the delta variant than those who are just vaccinated.

      In other words, though natural COVID infection has significant risks associated with it, it may protect the recipient better against future (and possibly more dangerous) strains. If this bears out, then a healthy twenty year old might do better for themselves, long term, by risking the natural infection today and developing immunity for the future. We saw some evidence for this with chickenpox and its vaccine in England.

      I’m not saying that this is the case (that would need an actual trial!)… but it is a theoretical possibility, among many. BU is enforcing its own medical judgement (and, apparently, the majority of its faculty, staff, and students) upon its community without taking any responsibility for potential outcomes.

      1. But the healthy 20 year old isn’t just making that decision for themself. The BU community is populated by many who have unvaccinated children at home, by presumably a significant number who cannot get the vaccine, and by those like me with family members for whom studies show as much as a 10x death risk. In a marketplace, BU can rationally say to both students and faculty/staff that they prioritize those concerns over those Ari has made here and elsewhere, and those who disagree can vote with their feet.

        1. My source is is a preliminary analysis of Israeli Health data published on an Israeli news channel (https://13news.co.il/item/news/domestic/health/corona-1281907/, partially translated at https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/are-recovered-covid-patients-more-protected-than-the-vaccinated/). It has not been published in a scientific venue and I have not reproduced the analysis myself.

          With respect to the article you cite, I really don’t understand the relevance:
          * It does not appear to deal with the delta variant.
          * It does not appear to compare naturally infected vs. vaccinated.
          * I don’t think that you can infer a comparison from their data: the infected patients were sick people, the vast majority of which had comorbidities (which are likely to inhibit immune response); the vaccinated patients, on the other hand, were healthy volunteers who were part of a phase 1 clinical trial.

  7. Have President Brown and the Trustees been vaccinated? We would like to see their record. I think it’s fair since they are forcing us to do the same!

    “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law.”

    1. I am a Trustee and I have been vaccinated. I cannot speak for anyone else, as it is their information to share. I am in full support of the University’s policy on vaccination. I understand that everyone has strong personal views on this topic and I respect that everyone has a right to them. There comes a point when we must agree to disagree. We are a community and, I believe, when we choose to be in community, we sometimes have to compromise or even sacrifice our personal desires and beliefs to protect the community. I am proud of BU for making this difficult decision to protect the BU community.

      1. Thank you for sharing your vaccination status and your viewpoint. I agree with your take on community; there will be those who disagree, but I hope there are more who don’t.

  8. I am so grateful that BU is helping nudge faculty out of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” scenario concerning vaccination status. It will help foster collegiality and help faculty further their credibility in the eyes of students.

    (If, after a period of prolonged isolation, faculty could reclaim a “faculty dining room” as a safe space to revel in the collective effervescence of collegial discussions, that would be a great next step …. but I digress.)

  9. So much for making your own informed decisions. Do what you’re told. Thanks BU for falling in line. Requiring unapproved vaccines should make everyone wonder why the FDA is hesitant to to fully approve this SHOT. ALL other VACCINES are FDA fully approved. Not this SHOT. For years we have been screaming “MY BODY, MY DECISION”. No more. This education that BU and other colleges offer does not encourage free thinking and decision making. We’ve gone a long way astray in the past twenty years.

    1. They’re not hesitating to approve it. They have six months to approve or reject it once a company submits for review. Pfizer and Moderna’s submissions recently happened, so the FDA has until January to respond. In fact, they’ve designated the Pfizer vaccine priority review, and it’s been reported they’ll likely make their decision within two months. There has been no hesitation whatsoever.

      The difference between emergency use authorization (EUA) and approval is a longer duration of follow-up with trial participants — at least 3 months vs at least 6 months. By definition, EUA would be possible to get sooner than full approval, but that means nothing about whether or not something will be approved.

  10. Stop w this ‘must return to the office’ none-sense, those of us who can do our jobs remotely should simply be able to do this without any mandates or control systems. In the midst of this pandemic forcing someone to return to the office after the data shows remote work was successful is making our executive leadership look rather ugly, so much for data right? Seems like BU is more about the money, with all of its businesses lined up and down Comm Ave struggling, they want everyone back spending their money. Let us not forget BU owns all the parking garages it charges you for to park to come to work, ch’ching $. I am willing to bet the elimination of retirement benefits more than made up for any finalizes due to COVID, I’d love see the #s, show us the books President Brown. I have lost respect for our executive leadership, very sad state of affairs.

  11. The administration is making the right decision. You can’t have a vaccination mandate for students and not have one for faculty and staff. It looks hypocritical, to put it mildly… Regarding “Anonymous”‘s “deep state” speculations on why BU is reopening, it’s worth remembering that we are an educational institution. Students expect people other than themselves to be on campus. (“Anonymous” does have a point about charging employees for parking–pretty outrageous.)

  12. One thing I’m really concerned about is why those with prior infection are still required to be vaccinated. This article from Dr. Elisa Song, a very well known pediatrician, that includes many reliable sources explains why natural immunity must count. Highly recommended for those who really care about science, which I think every one at BU should.

    https://healthykidshappykids.com/2021/07/24/why-natural-immunity-should-must-count/

    Also notice how CDC changed the definition of breakthrough infection!

  13. “Officials” encourage us to get shots by all possible means, and I am sure BU is under pressure to get the vaccination rates up. The state may not let BU reopen otherwise.

    Meanwhile front-line doctors have a different view:

    https://stopmedicaldiscrimination.org

    Given that MATH+ protocols provide a nearly complete cure with super safe drugs (https://covid19criticalcare.com/covid-19-protocols/math-plus-protocol/), emergency use authorization is itself illegal because it requires that no alternative treatment exist.

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