The University of California has suspended Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a professor of psychiatry and director of UC Irvine’s medical ethics program, after he challenged the system’s covid-19 vaccine mandate, which requires all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated and show proof.
Kheriaty, through his personal newsletter, said that UC Irvine has given him “investigatory leave” for not complying with the vaccination requirement and banned him from working on campus or from home.
While on leave, Kheriaty will not be allowed to perform any work for the university and cannot be present on any premises owned or operated by the University of California, Irvine, according to a notice from the university.
He sued the University of California system in August alleging that its vaccination policy is unfair to him and other people with natural immunity and it is also a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.
“I have no intention at this time of resigning, withdrawing my lawsuit, or having an unnecessary medical intervention forced on me,” Kheriaty said.
“This legal fight is important not only to set appropriate limits to vaccine mandates. It is also important for the future that—now in this crucial moment—we refuse to allow our institutions to set dangerous and unjust precedents.”
The vaccine mandate policy was upheld by a federal judge who ruled that UC acted logically to protect public health by endorsing the vaccine and not exempting people with some level of immunity from infection.
Kheriaty said he developed robust natural immunity after he contracted covid-19 in July 2020 and he believes this provides a better protection against future infection than any vaccine on the market.
He said that after trying to convince the university leadership without success, he took his complaints to court on behalf of those who are unable to state their rights such as nurses, medical students, and residents.
“If I don’t try to do what is morally right when under pressure or when it might cost me something professionally, then I don’t have much credibility in terms of calling myself a medical ethicist,” he told MedPage Today.
A recent Israeli study found that prior infection is more protective than vaccine-induced immunity in the case of the delta variant.
However, many experts do not think this early data should be interpreted as a sufficient reason for the previously infected not to get vaccinated.
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