Three California State University, Chico, students who have recovered from COVID-19 are suing the school, saying the California State University system’s requirement that they receive a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to class in the fall places them at risk of dying.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Sacramento on behalf of Austin Higley of Grass Valley and Kyle Clark and Ryan Clark, both of Rocklin, says all three students contracted COVID-19 in January 2020 and subsequently recovered from the virus.

On April 22, the students received emails from the university informing them that once federal authorities officially license vaccines now being administered on an emergency-use basis “students, faculty and staff must be vaccinated or they will be precluded from the campus for the fall semester,” the lawsuit states.

The suit claims that individuals who have recovered from COVID “are at substantial risk of serious illness, including death,” if given the vaccines, which the lawsuit contends are not safe and names federal officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, as defendants.

“The federal defendants continue to issue official recommendations, upon which the state defendants have relied, that every person in the United States receive the COVID-19 vaccine which recommendations are falsely premised on their contention the COVID-19 vaccines are safe,” according to the lawsuit, filed by Carson City, Nevada, attorney Peter Gibbons.

Federal and state officials have repeatedly said the vaccines are safe and that their distribution nationwide has largely staved off spikes in infections and allowed for states to reopen after more than a year of protests over restrictions that include mandatory face coverings, social distancing and other precautions.

The reopening process has been accompanied by a nationwide debate over how and whether individuals should have to prove they have been vaccinated against the virus, and the creation in California of a database that allows vaccinated citizens to download a digital copy of their vaccination records.

Chico State officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning.

The lawsuit, which targets CSU’s 23 campuses including Sacramento State and would affect more than 485,000 students and nearly 56,000 faculty and staff, claims that once the vaccines are approved for general use the students “will lose their right to choose their own health care unless the State Defendants’ mandate is enjoined.”

The suit asks for a court-ordered injunction that would stop CSU from requiring vaccines to attend class.

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