On June 28th 2021, George Mason University announced its reopening policy related to the COVID-19 for the fall 2021 semester. The policy required all unvaccinated students and staff members – including those who can demonstrate natural immunity from prior COVID-19 infections – to wear masks on campus, physically distance and undergo frequent COVID-19 testing. On July 22, GMU emailed the policy to students and employees and threatened disciplinary action—including termination of employment—against any who do not comply with the vaccine mandate. The university’s website describing its vaccination policy reiterated this threat. On August 3, 2021, GMU Professor Todd Zywicki, represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia, challenging GMU’s so-called “reopening policy.” “This coercive mandate violates my constitutional right to bodily integrity for no compelling reason,” explains Prof Zywicki. “For those of us who have acquired natural immunity, vaccination provides none of the benefits of vaccination with all of the costs.” At issue. Are GMU and other institutions across the country ignoring science, and within their rights, to force mandatory vaccines on even those with naturally acquired immunity. “Despite solid scientific evidence, GMU continues to refuse to recognize that Covid-19 vaccination is medically unnecessary for students, faculty, and staff with naturally acquired immunity demonstrated with antibody testing,” says Jenin Younes, lead counsel in Zywicki’s complaint. As it turns out, in this case GMU has ended up granting him a personal medical exemption, but it’s unclear how far this would extend to others. There is a lot more to unpack from this case about “mandates” and our constitutional rights, as Todd and Jenin explain in this episode.
“Vaccine Mandates?” with Professor Todd Zywicki and Jenin Younes
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