George Mason University granted a professor a medical exemption from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate after he filed a lawsuit that included an affidavit from his doctor citing “natural immunity” to the coronavirus — though the school denied a settlement had been reached.
Todd Zywicki, the law professor at the Fairfax school who sued, said he had COVID-19 and successfully defeated it, therefore his natural immunity, he argued, should prevent him from being required to get the vaccination.
His lawyers announced Tuesday that the school agreed to give their client an accommodation.
“I am gratified that George Mason has given me a medical exemption to allow me to fulfill my duties this fall semester in light of unprecedented circumstances,” Mr. Zywicki said. “I speak for tens of millions of Americans in the same circumstances I am in, and I call on leaders across the country to develop humane and science-based approaches as opposed to one-size-fits-all policies.”
His legal battle included affidavits from his doctor, saying Mr. Zywicki has natural immunity from the virus after having fully recovered from COVID-19 previously. The lawsuit argued there is stronger evidence available about natural immunity from the virus compared to data about immunity through various vaccines.
A spokesperson from George Mason University said there was no settlement agreement with Mr. Zywicki, and wouldn’t comment on any employee’s medical accommodation, citing “state policy regarding personnel information and confidentiality of health information.”
The spokesperson, though, noted no accommodation will be given based on natural immunity to COVID, saying that runs afoul of CDC guidance.
“His litigation had no impact on the consideration of his request for a medical exemption from the vaccination requirement,” the spokesperson said. “Mason encourages everyone, including those who previously had COVID-19, to get vaccinated, and will continue to take the steps necessary to protect the Mason community from COVID.”
GMU has a vaccine mandate, requiring students to be vaccinated by Aug. 1 and faculty and staff to do so by Aug.15. Those who do not comply must show a medical or religious exemption.
GMU announced in June that part of its reopening for the 2021 school year would require any unvaccinated faculty or staff members to wear face masks, socially distance and be tested for COVID-19 frequently.
Just last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a new study showed unvaccinated people were twice as likely to get reinfected with COVID-19.
Other studies, though, have revealed conflicting results.
Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, pointed recently in a U.S. News & World Report op-ed to an Israeli study, which he said showed natural immunity is 6.7 times greater than for vaccinated people.
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