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.”
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.