UC Irvine fires its ethicist, Aaron Kheriaty
Catholic psychiatrist sought vaccine exemption because of his immunity

2021-12-22T13:38:35-08:00December 23rd, 2021|Education|

A Catholic psychiatrist and medical ethicist who is suing the University of California for denying him a natural immunity exemption from its Covid-19 vaccination mandate has been fired for refusing to be vaccinated.

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a psychiatry professor and director of the medical ethics program at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, reported the news on his blog Dec. 17.

“Two years ago I never could have imagined that the University would dismiss me and other doctors, nurses, faculty, staff, and students for this arbitrary and capricious reason,” Kheriaty wrote.

“Everyone at the University seemed to be a fan of my work until suddenly they were not. Once I challenged one of their policies I immediately became a ‘threat to the health and safety of the community,’” he continued. “No amount of empirical evidence about natural immunity or vaccine safety and efficacy mattered at all. The University’s leadership was not interested in scientific debate or ethical deliberation.”

A university spokesman told CNA that the school does not comment on personnel matterrs.

The university’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate requires all students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated.

Kheriaty sought a medical exemption, arguing that since he had a bout with Covid-19 over the summer he has natural immunity from the virus and poses no health threat to anyone on campus.

When the university refused to grant him an exemption, he filed a federal lawsuit Aug. 18 against the University of California regents and its president, seeking to have the mandate struck down as an equal protection violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.

The university initially placed Kheriaty on a paid leave in October and barred him from interacting with patients or students in person until he complied with the mandate. He said in his blog post that he received official notice of his firing on Dec. 16. He plans to go forward with his lawsuit.

“I think that the conviction that I need to follow my conscience, and not ignore it, that comes from my Catholic faith,” Kheriaty told CNA in October. “I have a responsibility as an ethicist to try to uphold the basic principles of medical ethics that I profess and that I teach.”

Kheriaty is a senior fellow at the Zephyr Institute, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, chief of medical ethics at The Unity Project, and chief of psychiatry and ethics at Doc1 Health.

Although he professes deep religious convictions, Kheriaty told CNA he didn’t apply for a religious exemption because he said he has a “perfectly legitimate medical reason for declining the vaccine,” namely, “natural immunity.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), natural immunity refers to the body’s ability to neutralize or destroy disease-carrying organisms that is “acquired from exposure to the disease organism through infection with the actual disease….”

“Natural immunity is durable,” Marty Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Carey Business School, wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year. “It’s time to stop the fear mongering and level with the public about the incredible capabilities of both modern medical research and the human body’s immune system.”

But other public health authorities, including the CDC, have pushed back on the claim that natural immunity is at least as good as, if not superior to, vaccination.

“You should get a Covid-19 vaccine even if you already had COVID-19,” the CDC states on its website….

Kheriaty came down with Covid in July and experienced many of the common symptoms associated with the disease, including a cough and a loss of taste and smell, according to his complaint. As a result, he considers himself to be immune from contracting or spreading the virus.

According to his complaint, “The hunt for re-infections has been a nationwide effort and out of the estimated 120.2 million individuals in the United States who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 as of May 2021, there is not a single documented case of an individual being re-infected with the virus and transmitting it to another person.”

“I’m actually the safest person to be around on campus as someone who’s recovered from Covid-19, whereas the vaccines, one of which started out at 67% efficacy and all of which have declined, they start declining at about four months,” Kheriaty told CNA….

The above comes from a Dec. 22 story by Catholic News Agency, which appeared in Angelus News.



  1. Your Fellow Catholic December 23, 2021 at 9:39 am - Reply

    While omicron is a very different animal than delta, it was interesting that the first death in the US confirmed to be omicron, occurred in a person who had already had a prior strain of COVID, survived, never got vaccinated presumably because he thought natural immunity would protect him, but contracted the highly contagious omicron, and died in his 50s.

    But I do think we are in a new era here. Boosted vaccinations protect people from serious illness from omicron, and they seem to get infected at a lower rate than unvaccinated chaps, but it is becoming harder to argue for vaccine mandates in the omicron era. If vaccines prevented 90% of transmission, maybe you could say yes to mandates. But if, as it seems, you only reduce transmission by 3 or 4 fold, well that is a different story it seems to me, in a situation where vaccines are free and widely available. This is even. more the case as the new Paxlovid home-use medicines by Pfizer become available.

    But I still think mandates for well fitting masks inside are still warranted, even for the vaccinated. And vaccines are still appropriate among the military where it would be impossible to carry out missions if 30% of the unit had disease that kept them from fighting.

    • Your Faithful Catholic December 23, 2021 at 11:24 am - Reply

      Thank you for the propaganda.

      • Anne TE December 24, 2021 at 1:47 pm - Reply

        More than likely that poor man was glad to get out of this hell hole of a world that some mad scientists have created. He is finally free. May he rest in peace.


    • Tom Byrne December 23, 2021 at 11:30 am - Reply

      I am fully vaccinated, but appreciate your change of opinion on mandates for vaccines. Now what would convince you to abandon forced masking – or do you think (as Dr. Fauci hints) we’re stuck with it for years to come?

      • Your Fellow Catholic December 23, 2021 at 5:22 pm - Reply

        Mr. Byrne, I don’t have a crystal ball. I try to stick to the facts as they develop, as does Dr. Fauci. Right now, masks seem to be at least as important as vaccinations at limiting the spread of this disease. If that changes either due to new knowledge and data, or because the virus changes yet again, I will change my opinion on that too. That’s the way science and medicine work.

        • cd December 24, 2021 at 8:19 am - Reply

          KN95 or N95

    • Anne TE December 24, 2021 at 2:13 pm - Reply

      Regarding my last post, I was of course referring to the hellish situation some scientists have created in this world by their unethical conduct, not that they created the world itself.

  2. Not tolerate December 23, 2021 at 11:23 am - Reply

    The left does not tolerate dissent.

  3. Veiled December 23, 2021 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Vaccine mandates are a thinly veiled effort to purge businesses, government and the public square of conservatives. Leftists are implementing mandates because they know that most conservatives won’t go along with them, and then they can be fired or excluded from society. Reprehensible.

    • Your Fellow Catholic December 23, 2021 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      I would urge you to not continue to politicize public health. Republicans have been doing that for months, and several groups have actually studied the correlation between how strongly individual counties voted for Trump and their COVID death toll. It is sad, its not something I like to think about because I strongly believe that public health isn’t a political thing, but the data provesthat many Republicans have become so brainwashed into thinking that vaccines are political that their own members have paid a price with their lives.

      • mht December 24, 2021 at 8:22 am - Reply

        Most conservatives get vaccinated. It really is the age people are that make the difference.

        • Anne TE December 24, 2021 at 3:04 pm - Reply

          There have been physicians who were for some of these vaccines, and took one and had bad side effects, some very seriously, and then changed their minds and decided not to get any more boosters. There simply is no assurance that any of these vaccines are totally safe for everyone. They also work differently than all or most other vaccines.

  4. Frank N. Stein December 24, 2021 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    “UC Irvine fires its ethicist, Aaron Kheriaty”

    having taken this action, i’m gunna asume
    that UC Irvine is going on record as being
    completely without ethics.

    Thank you very much.

  5. "Follow the Science?" December 24, 2021 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    Dr. Kheriaty has long been a highly respected physician, scholar, researcher and ethicist. And, this has been true in both secular and Catholic circles. Yet, now it seems his good name will be mired in COVID politics for expressing his scientific opinion and for his personal medical choice. Can professors at the public University of California no longer voice their learned opinions without being fired? I don’t know if his hypothesis or theory is true, but why the over-reaction? Others are free to refute his findings.

    • Your Fellow Catholic December 24, 2021 at 10:29 pm - Reply

      It’s not his opinion that got him fired

      • "Follow the Science?" December 25, 2021 at 9:04 am - Reply

        YFC, honestly, you think his opinion was not a factor? And, yes, it’s the invasion of his privacy and his personal medical decision that got him fired. Do you know his personal medical history and what his physicians may have advised him? If he weren’t an honest ethicist, an honest person or a Christian, he could’ve lied or produced a fake vaccine record. UC is not a private employer. He works for us taxpayers (presuming you pay taxes too). Many object to an excellent employee being fired over this one issue. And, those who’ve been vaccinated are still getting and spreading COVID. I’m not against the COVID vaccine, but I’m not drinking the political kool aid that comes in the guise of “science.”

        • Your Fellow Catholic December 25, 2021 at 1:49 pm - Reply

          1) Yes
          2) It was his failure to abide by the rules of the institution that he works for that got him fired.
          3) I’m glad he didn’t produce fake documents, I’m not even sure why that is relevant though.
          4) What does it matter whether UC is public or private? Employers are employers and have the right to set rules of employment.
          5) Your objections don’t give you a right to dictate the workplace rules just because UC is a quasi-public institution.
          6) Vaccinated people are indeed spreading COVID, which is why I am altering my position, see above.
          7) You drink the political cool-aide of Faux News and you seem to think that is the better option. Sad.

          Merry Christmas. Immanuel:God with us all

          • gotcha December 25, 2021 at 5:58 pm - Reply

            So then you’re in favor of the Church firing all the civilly gay married employees that work for it for their failure to abide by the rules of the institution that they work for? After all, employers are employers and have the right to set rules of employment. Gotcha.

          • "Follow the Science?" December 26, 2021 at 9:08 am - Reply

            Gotcha, in answer to your question, yes.
            As well as heterosexuals routinely engaging in sex outside of marriage. This is the Christian understanding of human sexuality and is not “anti-gay.”
            And, there is a difference between public and private institutions. Private ones are accountable to their shareholders or co-owners. Public ones are accountable to us, the taxpayers, because we pay for them. There really is a difference institutionally between Chico or Fresno State and Stanford or Thomas Aquinas College. And, as YFC noted, merry Christmas!

  6. Johnck John December 25, 2021 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    You say that out of 120.2 million people who got Covid 19 not one got it a second time. Well my cousin in law got it twice. 4/2019 and 9/2019

    • Your Fellow Catholic December 25, 2021 at 6:00 pm - Reply

      Johnck John: Did you mean 4/2020 and 9/2020?

  7. The granny December 26, 2021 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    I work in acute care hospital and the only patients that have gotten it twice that I have seen are the people who got vaxxed after having survived it naturally. Many more lives will be lost due to starvation caused by disrupted supply lines than carona virus will kill. Before the camps, the Jews were made unclean and quarantined for typhus. Makes you think.

    • hanging December 26, 2021 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      Think what? Don’t leave us hanging…

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