A federal judge struck down a vaccination mandate issued by Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM), while George Mason University has decided to grant a “natural immunity” exemption for a law professor who has recovered from COVID-19 after he sued the school over its rigid mandate.
In the Louisiana case, the attorney general got involved after students reported that they had been retaliated against for refusing the vaccine. The college granted religious exemptions after students filed a lawsuit, but those exemptions came with stipulations. These students were required to attend vaccine education trainings and were barred from activities involving patients.
The school had defended itself by saying, “VCOM has responded to the Attorney General’s letters twice by making minor amendments to our policy, but vaccination remains a requirement. This requirement is important as our students become medical providers in their first year…. Physicians and VCOM students, as medical providers, also have no right to be a vector in spreading the virus or infecting the unknowing patients they will care for, who would naturally believe the students would be vaccinated.”
Judge Terry Doughty disagreed, issuing a temporary restraining order and ruling that the requirement caused irreparable harm to the plaintiffs. He explained, “Although VCOM has an interest in protecting its students, its students are allowed to attend ULM functions, participate in ULM intramural events, study in the ULM library and mingle with ULM students, who are not required to get the vaccine.”
Michael DuBos, the attorney representing the VCOM students, celebrated the decision, stating, ““We feel it is important to respect individual rights, especially in a time of crisis. If not, it sets a dangerous precedent.”
Solicitor General Liz Murrill responded, “This is a win for the people of Louisiana who have sincerely held religious convictions and other reservations about these vaccines. The bottom line is that the law and Constitution still apply. We are grateful to Judge Doughty for protecting their rights and upholding the rule of law, and we will continue to work toward an acceptable resolution.”
In another situation involving vaccine mandates in Virginia, George Mason University has reportedly recognized a law professor’s natural immunity to COVID in lieu of a vaccine. Professor Todd Zywicki has been in a battle with the university after it initially refused to exempt him from its vaccination mandate. He eventually filed a lawsuit, citing his doctor’s advice that he skip the vaccine, as well as studies showing that natural immunity is superior to immunity gained through vaccination. He argued that if he followed his doctor’s advice and went against the mandate, he would be harmed both professionally and financially.
Even as the nation and the world struggles to gain a grip on COVID-19, they should be carefully balancing public health concerns with civil liberties. Unfortunately, too many organizations are implementing rigid, one-size-fits-all vaccination mandates designed to force people into taking a vaccine to which they may have legitimate conscience-based, medical, or other personal objections. People should have a choice about what they put in their bodies, particularly when it comes to vaccinations that are still in the emergency authorization phase.
Liberty cannot be sacrificed for the sake of safety. It must be protected, or it will quickly be lost.
The development of effective vaccines have led to vast improvements in public health, helping to eradicate or significantly mitigate devastating illnesses, including polio, measles, tetanus, and meningitis. In these cases and many others, the benefits outweigh the risks, and most people take those vaccines willingly. However, there is no such thing as a perfectly “safe” vaccine or event drug treatment. They all have risks, and those risks differ between people based on their medical histories and current condition, genetics, allergies, and age.
Before now, doctors typically advised patients of their reasons for recommending a vaccine or treatment, explaining why they believed the benefits outweighed the risks for that particular patient and patiently answering the patient’s questions and concerns. Now, those risks are not only not being adequately conveyed, but the government, corporations, and schools are shutting down any conversation about them even as more questions arise.
Initially, the vaccines appeared to be highly effective and on their way to fulfilling their promise to achieve herd immunity, but more recently, the Centers for Disease Control has announced that immunity against COVID is “waning” in those vaccinated with mRNA vaccines and now a third booster shot is being recommended.
Moreover, regardless of what Twitter and Facebook’s algorithms automatically send out, this vaccine is definitely not without risks.
More than 1.5 million post-vaccine reactions have been reported to the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reaction System (VAERS), including myocarditis and neurological issues, and as of August 13, 2021, VAERS has collected reports of 13,608 post-COVID vaccine deaths.
America has been down this road before with the 1976 Swine Flu and the Anthrax vaccines. In both cases, recipients were told the shots were perfectly safe, and in both cases that turned out not to be true. Schools and organizations must remain open to following such historical lessons and all of the current and evolving evidence rather than blindly following the popular viewpoint. Science is not a conclusion — it is a process that considers various inputs and opinions. Debate and dissent must be allowed or it is not science, it is tyranny.
As people face the loss of jobs, educational opportunities, and even the freedom to access public places because they don’t feel the “jab” is the best prescription for them or their families, the courts must step in and protect people’s right to make their own healthcare decisions.
A decade ago, the architects of the Affordable Care Act swore that the government would never insert itself into the doctor-patient relationship. Now, however, it’s not just the government telling patients and doctors that they must comply with one-size-fits-all vaccine mandates, but also universities, corporations, and even the hostess at the local restaurant.
We’ve been through pandemics before and our society and civil liberties have survived intact. Whether our free society can survive this current uncompromising assault on individual autonomy and conscience is less certain — and is a question that must be asked repeatedly of both governments and institutions.
Ultimately, the courts need to provide a definitive answer in the context of the Constitution and the fundamentals of a free society — not simply because the CDC and other government health officials insist that only they can possibly know what’s best for every American.