Universities clinging to vaccine mandates may face heavy liability

"Why would you kick someone out of school because they didn't take a booster 8 months ago that is currently providing ~0% protection against transmission?" wrote one critic of mandates.

Updated: August 30, 2022 - 11:26pm

Amid growing doubts about COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy, the CDC's abandonment of distinctions between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, and a costly university healthcare system settlement with workers denied religious vaccine exemptions, universities that retain vaccine mandates may find themselves facing heavy liability. 

Chicago-based NorthShore University HealthSystem reached a $10.3 million settlement last month with 500 current and former healthcare workers who were denied religious exemptions.

Their lawyers at Liberty Counsel said it was the first such class-action settlement with a private employer for across-the-board denials of vaccine exemptions. 

NorthShore agreed to provide religious accommodations throughout the company in every position, and fired employees can reapply for positions at their previous seniority level, pending judicial approval of the settlement. The company said the settlement reflects its "new system-wide vaccine policy."

Outside of the CDC's purview, Canadian colleges are also facing pushback for their vaccine mandates.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is suing Seneca College on behalf of single mothers who are prohibited from finishing their programs of study this spring.

Seneca is "one of the few" colleges in Ontario to maintain requirements after the province told them a year ago to offer a regular testing option in lieu of vaccination for resistant students, JCCF said. It won't offer testing or provide remote learning to unvaccinated students, who have been denied their expected career earnings as a result.

The policy is "rogue, out-dated, [and] discriminatory," lawyer Andre Memaur said in a release ahead of an Aug. 24 Ontario Superior Court hearing on an injunction sought so JCCF's clients could return to campus this fall while the case plays out. 

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The college is "jeopardizing the careers" of its clients, whose "prolonged absence from their studies will cause irreparable harm, compounded by the stress of financial insecurity as they struggle to provide for their families," the law firm said. 

Asked how the hearing went, JCCF spokesperson Lenaya Larsen told Just the News it would share "an update from our court reporter" when it came in. Memaur said the judge "will be rendering a written decision in the near future."

Western University imposed a three-dose mandate after "extensive consultation with its science experts and its community," which earned derision from its medical alum Matt Strauss.

"Which 'experts' are these who do not seem to know that third dose effectiveness is roughly zero (0.6-6.5%) at 4 months?" he tweeted, pointing to recent research published in Nature.

The same interventions failed at Cornell during Omicron, Strauss wrote, pointing to a May study in a Journal of the American Medical Association publication

"Why would you kick someone out of school because they didn't take a booster 8 months ago that is currently providing ~0% protection against transmission?" he wrote. "Pretension? Malice? Call[o]us disregard for people who think differently than you?"

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Western didn't answer a request for its response to Strauss' criticism and cited research. According to Canadian news website True North, which obtained an email from the provost to a parent, the school will refund tuition to students it forces to withdraw this upcoming semester.