A New York college student who became ill after receiving her second COVID-19 shot has been expelled from school after she refused to take a booster shot on the advice of her primary care physician.
Diamond Ellie Puentes, 20, was attending Union College on a scholarship when she was expelled from school and told she had mere days to pack up and leave the campus. She had made numerous attempts to gain a medical exemption from the booster.
“I was in class, I received an email stating, ‘you have been unenrolled and you have 72 hours to leave campus,'” Puentes told The Daily Wire in a phone interview.
Puentes always had reservations about the COVID-19 vaccine, citing her age, worries about adverse effects, and how quickly the vaccine was developed and put to market. “It kind of freaked me out a little bit,” she told The Daily Wire.
So, she applied for a religious exemption. The school denied her, and in August, Puentes reluctantly received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. She had no reaction, and in September received her second dose.
That’s when Puentes became sick with a sore throat and other symptoms. She later suffered from extreme abdomen pain and vomiting.
“These health problems culminated in her going to an emergency room, where she stayed for six hours and was diagnosed with gastritis,” reported The Chicago Thinker, which first broke the story. “Seven months later, she continues to have symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), common side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine include tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea. The CDC explains, “Some people have side effects from the vaccine, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days.”
Puentes subsequently provided a doctor’s note and asked for a medical exemption.
“It is my opinion that Ms. Puentes be granted an exception from receiving the booster COVID vaccine,” her doctor wrote in a letter to Union College. “She currently is in an unfavorable state of health, presumably caused by the vaccine itself and getting this vaccine is ill-advised.”
She received a denial on April 11, 2022.
Pushing back against Puentes’ doctor’s advice, Union College’s Director of Health Services Angela Stefanatos wrote, “The vaccine is not associated with gastritis, which is the diagnosis you received in the ER two weeks after vaccination. Two episodes of streptococcal sore throat in 7 months is not an indication of a weakened immune system. There is no evidence in the literature that vaccination for Covid19 weakens the immune system.”
“The committee is denying the request for a medical exemption for the booster.”
Notably, fully-vaccinated Puentes tested positive for COVID-19 in December 2021, which suggests that the student has what scientists have called “hybrid immunity.” The New York Times reported in January that hybrid immunity is the “combined protection of pre-existing vaccine antibodies and natural antibodies from a breakthrough infection.”
The Daily Wire reached out to Union College about the expulsion and Puentes’ immunity but did not receive a response.
“I wish I knew, I tried everything,” an exhausted Puentes told The Daily Wire, when asked why she believes the school was being unreasonable about her request. “Obviously, it was my health that was in jeopardy, and they were not listening.”
She does have one suspicion, though.
Puentes believes she might have been an easy target for expulsion due to her financial situation. While she knows of other students who’ve received exemptions, Puentes is the recipient of academic scholarships that cover most of her tuition. She otherwise has limited economic means.
“Puentes wrote that her expulsion ‘felt personal,’ as she is a first-generation, low-income college student and a recipient of an academic scholarship that paid for the majority of her tuition,” the Thinker reported. “She feels that ‘it’s easy to let someone like [her] go,’ because Union College ‘no longer had to pay for [her] education and knew that [she] did not have the financial resources to fight back.'”
The student said it was “unjust for an institution to withdraw a student or fire a staff member because they have chosen not to comply with a policy with valid reasoning.” If she complied, Puentes added, “it would’ve enforced that what the institution is doing is okay.”
Since her expulsion, friends of Puentes have organized a GiveSendGo account for the sophomore.
“As friends of Ellie, we have seen first-hand the injustices she has faced when dealing with the Union College administration, and we have set up this Go Fund Me Page,” the page reads. “We are making this Go Fund Me for anyone that can help support her as she is trying with her best efforts to find the proper legal assistance to figure out the best course of action.”
“Also, Ellie has been told she won’t be receiving money back from the spring term she has now not been able to attend,” the page adds.