News Story

MSU Sued For Mandating Vaccination For Individuals Who’ve Already Had COVID

Group contends natural immunity superior to vaccination, and getting both can cause problems

The New Civil Liberties Alliance filed a lawsuit against Michigan State University over the COVID vaccination policy it announced July 30 for students and staff. Specifically, it objects to the school’s refusal to grant an exception for individuals who already have natural immunity acquired by previously contracting the disease. The lawsuit argues that the vaccine requirement violates the Ninth and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The organization submitted the class action complaint August 27 on behalf of university employee Jeanna Norris, who faces disciplinary action, including potential firing, even though tests show she has natural immunity from having contracted and recovered from COVID late last year.

“MSU’s refusal to grant naturally immune individuals exemptions from its vaccine mandate is unscientific and irrational. Substantial evidence establishes beyond the shadow of a doubt that immunity acquired through infection is superior to that obtained through the best available vaccines, both in terms of robustness and durability,” Jenin Younes, litigation counsel for the NCLA, said in an email.

Younes said that MSU has an unscientific approach to the vaccination mandate, which leaves her no alternative to filing a federal lawsuit. Her attorneys sought a preliminary injunction to halt the university from enforcing an August 31 vaccination deadline, but the court denied their motion.

Norris said she has worked at MSU for eight years, and she believes the university has placed employees in a “terrible predicament of” having to choose either an “unnecessary and unwanted” medical treatment or losing their jobs.

She added, “In my case, positive antibody tests indicate I have naturally acquired immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection. For MSU to dismiss natural infection immunity as legitimate protection is completely contrary to science. I want MSU to acknowledge natural immunity as real and equally protective for the many people out there like me.”

Immunologist Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, who has criticized COVID vaccination policies that ignore whether an individual has previously contracted the disease, is assisting Younes and the NCLA. He told Michigan Capitol Confidential that natural immunity should always be considered as an exemption with vaccination mandates. Noorchashm created an initiative, #Screenb4vaccine, which recommends people get an antibody test before receiving the vaccine.

In a Fox News broadcast, he said that administering a vaccine to a recently infected individual is a mistake with potential physical repercussions.

On his blog, Noorchashm wrote, “My very specific concern stems from the fact that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is known to accumulate in the inner lining of blood vessels — the so-called endothelium. So if a person with a recent or active COVID-19 infection is vaccinated, the highly effective and antigen specific immune response incited by the vaccine will, very likely, attack the inner lining of the blood vessel and cause damage, leading to blood clot formation.”

Noorchashm is a retired surgeon and faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Medical School and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. His focus has been cellular and molecular immunology.

MSU spokesperson Emily Gerkin Guerrant says the university has no comment on the lawsuit. She says the university offers full refunds for students who withdraw from classes and cancel residence hall contracts due to COVID-related concerns.

The NCLA also sued George Mason University on behalf of a student who was not allowed a natural immunity exemption. The group announced August 17 that GMU granted an exemption in that case, but its general policy of mandatory vaccinations still stands.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.