Is COVID-19 a “Vaccine-Preventable Disease”?

   

On August 2, Governor Edwards issued a mask mandate for all Louisiana citizens, unvaccinated AND vaccinated. In his press conference that day he made this statement in defense of the new proclamation, which affects everyone, five years old and older: “Based on recent CDC data, vaccinated people who do get infected have just as much virus in their systems as unvaccinated people, meaning they can likely spread the virus simply because of the power of the Delta variant.”

In addition, Louisiana State Health Officer, Dr Joseph Kanter stated: “[I]f you are fully vaccinated and do become infected, then you can still relatively transmit the virus” and that “you will have just as much virus in your body as the early days of the pandemic as someone who was unvaccinated.”

Did you catch that?

The Governor of Louisiana and the State Health Officer announced that vaccinated individuals can become infected with and can transmit SARS-CoV-2. They were referring to people where fourteen days had elapsed since receiving both shots. Those “fully vaccinated” people CAN still transmit and be infected with the virus.

Why then are Louisiana colleges and universities requiring COVID-19 vaccination for admission? 

Legislators step up

Some members of the Louisiana Legislature are delving into this matter. In a letter addressed to Dr. Courtney Phillips, the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, Representatives Beryl Amédee, Kathy  Edmonston, and Valerie Hodges point out that the state law governing vaccination requirements for school attendance, LA RS 17:170, is specific to “vaccine-preventable diseases.”  The legislators point to Governor Edwards’ and Dr Kanter’s statement during the August 2nd press conference that COVID-19 vaccines DO NOT prevent infection or transmission of the disease and the mask mandate as evidence. 

The legislators quoted a New England Journal of Medicine article that points to a lack of vaccine efficacy as one of the reasons for the high transmission rate of the Delta variant. They also provide real world evidence of the lack of vaccine efficacy by providing a case study from Israel where vaccinated and masked healthcare workers became infected, noting that this “challenges the assumption that high universal vaccination rates will lead to herd immunity and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.”

Also referenced in the letter is a recently published, peer reviewed study pointing to the substandard efficacy of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The study titled Effectiveness of mRNA BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine up to 6 months in a large integrated health system in the USA: a retrospective cohort study, reveals that: “Effectiveness against infections declined from 88% (95% CI 86–89) during the first month after full vaccination to 47% (43–51) after 5 months.” 

The Department of Health has granted approval for colleges and universities to require COVID-19 vaccination for admittance, but as the law, RS 17:170, is clearly intended for vaccine-preventable diseases, reps Amédee, Edmonston, and Hodges ask that the approval be withdrawn. 

My own letter to LDH also addressed “vaccine-preventable diseases”

On the heels of this letter, I also addressed four specific ways current college and university policies violate the state law governing vaccination requirements for school attendance, LA RS 17:170My letter to Dr. Phillips again addresses the issue of “vaccine-preventable diseases.” It pointed out that even if COVID-19 were a vaccine-preventable disease, state law provides the option to submit “evidence of immunity,” an option that is noticeably absent from any Louisiana college or university policy. 

My fourteen page letter to the Louisiana Secretary of Health includes supporting data and research on the robust nature of natural immunity and evidence that COVID-19 does not fit the definition of “vaccine-preventable.”  In fact, included in my letter is correspondence from Dr Joseph Kanter and Dr. Frank Welch from May of this year indicating that efficacy of prevention of transmission was not known: “At this time, there are limited data to address whether the vaccine can prevent transmission of the virus from person to person.”

State government making false or misleading statements?

Even while agents of LDH were stating publicly that the vaccine would protect loved ones, they actually did not know.

For students who do submit an exemption for vaccine requirements, the law states they may have to be excluded from campus during an outbreak of a “vaccine-preventable disease.” Once again, this would not apply to COVID-19, as vaccinated individuals can and do transmit the virus. 

Finally, the law states that the only consequence of submitting an exemption is possible exclusion from campus during an outbreak. The law does not provide for indiscriminate testing and persistent masking of those individuals. 

Louisiana colleges and universities had to seek the approval of the office of public health to require COVID-19 vaccinations for school admission. It was obviously granted prematurely and needs to be immediately rescinded, along with the accompanying policies that violate state law. 

Considering the void of leadership in the state’s legislature, who will bring this state agency to task and rein in the heavy hand of colleges and universities?

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