Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Data breach exposed California college student’s requests for COVID vaccine exemption

CHICO, – Personal information from California college students who requested a religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine has been posted online following an apparent data breach.

Records of about 130 students at California State University, Chico were put on an anonymous Internet message boardThe Sacramento Bee reported Monday.

A commenter on the site linked to a spreadsheet asking students who attended college to be exempt from receiving the vaccine, with detailed explanations. Many of the entries included the names and phone numbers of the students.

According to the Bee, the original post offered tips on how to file a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. “Give purely religious reasons only,” the anonymous tip read. “Don’t say anything else.”

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The CSU system requires its 56,000 faculty and staff and about 500,000 students on campus to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The policy allows medical and religious exemptions.

The spreadsheet shows that about half of the requests in the leaked document were approved. Many of the declined requests were resubmitted for another chance at approval.

“We are aware of the documents posted online and circulated among the media. Andrew Staples, public relations manager for CSU Chico, said in a statement, “We are investigating this incident, as well as taking a number of proactive steps to protect the confidential information of students.”

Most requests for exemptions were filed by students citing their Christian beliefs – some of them quoting biblical scriptures. Another student who was approved called the vaccine “impure” and tantamount to non-kosher food for Orthodox Jews.

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