George Mason University Grants Professor Exemption From COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate After Lawsuit Filed

By Harry Lee
Harry Lee
Harry Lee
Harry Lee is a New York-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
August 19, 2021Updated: August 19, 2021

George Mason University has granted a medical exemption from its COVID-19 vaccination mandate to Todd Zywicki, a professor at the university’s Antonin Scalia Law School who filed a lawsuit against the mandate two weeks ago.

In a statement, the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), serving as legal counsel for Zywicki in the lawsuit, announced the update on Aug. 17.

Zywicki filed suit against the university over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in early August, claiming that he has fully recovered from the disease, and vaccination is unnecessary and potentially risky for him.

Zywicki gained national attention because he wrote an op-ed about his case, which was published in The Wall Street Journal. In the piece, he cited a March 2021 study that suggests that COVID-19 survivors are more likely to experience severe side effects from vaccination than those who have never been infected.

“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,” Zywicki said in a statement. “Thanks to NCLA, we have increased public awareness that vaccinating the naturally immune is medically unnecessary and presents an elevated risk of harm to COVID-19 survivors.”

Zywicki contracted and recovered from COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. However, George Mason refused to give him a medical exemption from its vaccination mandate. Even multiple antibody tests have shown that Zywicki has a robust level of immune protection, and his immunologist, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, concluded that “it is not medically necessary” for him to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Mason is not currently exempting individuals who previously had COVID-19 from the vaccination requirement, as such an exemption is not consistent with the guidance issued by the CDC,” George Mason’s counsel said in a letter to Zywicki’s attorney on July 30.

In July, George Mason required that all students, faculty, and staff must be vaccinated. Faculty and staff must either submit proof of full vaccination by Oct. 1 or have an approved medical or religious exemption. Otherwise, they will face “disciplinary action,” including “unpaid leave or possible loss of employment.”

“NCLA is pleased that GMU [George Mason] granted Professor Zywicki’s medical exemption, which we believe it only did because he filed this lawsuit,” NCLA said in a statement. “Nevertheless, NCLA remains dismayed by GMU’s refusal—along with many other public and private universities and other employers—to recognize that the science establishes beyond any doubt that natural immunity is as robust or more so than vaccine immunity.”

For that reason, NCLA said it would continue to explore litigation against the university.

University officials didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

George Mason granted a medical exemption to Zywicki and assured him that he wouldn’t be subject to disciplinary action. But he has to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and be tested for COVID-19 once per week on campus “at no cost to himself,” the NCLA statement reads.

A recent study from Oxford University also found that COVID-19 vaccines provide as much protection as “having had COVID-19 before through natural infection.” The study examined the effectiveness of vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

Last week, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined to block Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, offering no explanation for her decision.

At least one plaintiff in the case was refused a medical exemption by the university, even though the plaintiff fully recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

GQ Pan and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.