Opposition to New Booster Mandate Rests on Misinformation and Confusion

The recent update to the university’s immunization requirements has drawn criticism from students and parents



A number of parents have expressed displeasure with the university’s handling of its new COVID-19 booster mandate.


Fordham announced on Sept. 27 that it has officially updated its immunization requirements so that students and faculty have until Nov. 1 to get the newly approved COVID-19 bivalent boosters. The additional dose is approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to defend against the original strain of the virus, as well as newer ones, particularly the omicron variant.  

University Health Services (UHS) signaled the possibility of mandating a second booster as early as April of this year. The university stated that its decision falls in line with the CDC guidelines, which recently changed their recommendations to include the additional booster shot. 

However, Fordham is one of the only colleges in the country that has mandated a second booster shot. According to Best Colleges, a college ranking website and college search advisor, which published a list  on Sept. 15 that outlines which universities are requiring vaccines and boosters, only three institutions — Bowdoin College, Wake Forest University and St. Olaf College —  have mandated the bivalent booster. 

Since the list was released, additional colleges such as Harvard University and Tufts University have also rolled out new mandates. Some of these requirements only impact students, but others include faculty and staff as well. At Fordham, these new requirements encompass the entire university community and have drawn some criticism.

After the decision was announced, many parents of students who attend Fordham began a campaign that called on the university to remove the mandate, according to a Newsweek article. In the letter, published on Oct. 6, parents cited conspiracy theories and health concerns as reasons to see the mandate reversed.

Newsweek spoke of a letter written by “over 400 people … including students, parents and alumni” that expresses staunch opposition to the mandate. According to Newsweek, David Betten, a parent who signed the letter, said that he chose to sign because he believes that vaccines have not been proven to work and may cause harm in young adults. These statements have been debunked by the CDC as well as other health agencies and professionals.

“Up until this point, the school has been becoming more and more lenient with their COVID policy. And this mandate is a 180-degree turnaround from their actions in the recent months.” Zachary Visconti, GSBRH ’25

Zachary Visconti, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill ’25 and another interviewee of  Newsweek, said he and other students who signed “are not anti-vaccine.” He said that he believes the CDC’s recommendation should remain just that: a recommendation. Citing loosened COVID-19 restrictions in the city, Visconti does not believe that Fordham should be toughening its policy at this time. He also felt that it was a major reversal of Fordham’s policy.

“Up until this point, the school has been becoming more and more lenient with their COVID policy,” Visconti said. “And this mandate is a 180-degree turnaround from their actions in the recent months.”

The university has directed questions to its statement on the matter, which was released on Oct. 5. The statement, published on the Fordham News website, argues that COVID-19 is still a major public health issue. 

In response to common complaints regarding lower hospitalization and death rates, the statement says that these reductions are evidence of the efficacy of the vaccine and boosters. Like past vaccination updates, the university rests its argument on the authority of the CDC.

“Fordham already requires proof of immunizations for measles, mumps, rubella, and meningitis — and has done so for decades,” the statement said. “Like those diseases, COVID-19 is a public health issue, and the relevant authority is the CDC.”

As the deadline for the booster approaches, it remains to be seen if the opposition will amount to anything. Fordham has defended its vaccine mandates before and has threatened expulsion of students who do not comply. 

UHS did not respond to a request for comment.