01/07/2022 / By Mary Villareal
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, director of the medical ethics program at the University of California Irvine, has been fired after nearly 15 years at the university. His only “crime” was refusing to get the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
In a blog post, Kheriaty revealed that he never could have imagined that the university would dismiss him and other doctors, nurses, faculty, staff and even students for the “arbitrary and capricious reason” of being unvaccinated. “Everyone at the university seemed to be a fan of my work until suddenly they were not,” he said.
He said that once he challenged the university’s policies, he immediately became “a threat to the health and safety of the community.” He also accused the university leadership of being uninterested in scientific debate or ethical deliberation, saying that no amount of empirical evidence about natural immunity or vaccine safety and efficacy mattered to them.
Kheriaty filed a lawsuit against the University of California Board of Regents and the system’s president, Michael V. Drake, in August in the U.S. District Court, on behalf of those who were not in a position to stand up and assert their rights, such as medical students, residents, nurses and staff who don’t have the credibility that comes with being a physician at the hospital. He also said that he was seeking to block the vaccine mandate and seek a return-to-work order despite being unvaccinated. He also requested the court to declare the mandate unconstitutional.
In the lawsuit, Kheriaty said that the policy is illogical and cannot withstand strict scrutiny or rational basis test, because naturally immune individuals like himself have at least as good or better immunity to the virus than those who are vaccinated.
U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna, however, ruled against Kheriaty, stating that the UC system vaccine mandate is “rationally related” to the spread of COVID-19.
Kheriaty appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, noting that there are some legal questions that the court needs to answer regarding the limits of the mandates during public health emergencies.
Kheriaty, a vocal opponent of the system’s vaccine mandate, has penned several opinion articles on the topic for different publications. He said that forcing those with natural immunity to be vaccinated introduces unnecessary risks without commensurate benefits and violates their rights guaranteed under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. While he does not oppose vaccination, Kheriaty stated that individuals should have the right to decide whether or not they get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the UC system adopted a policy that requires all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against the coronavirus before they are allowed on campus, in a facility or in an office. Further, these individuals are required to show proof of vaccination.
The policy stated that employees who choose not to be vaccinated and have not been approved to exemption, accommodation or deferral, can put other people’s health at risk, and may face disciplinary actions. The policy has also been updated to require booster shots for students, faculty and staff alike.
The lawsuit claims that Kheriaty’s exposure to COVID-19 back in 2019 has given him superior immunity against the virus compared to those who have been vaccinated. He noted in the complaint that natural immunity prevents a virus from replicating; in contrast, vaccines only appear to reduce symptoms in some, but may still infect an individual and transmit the virus. (Related: The insane vaccine industry now wants you FIRED from your job if you aren’t vaccinated.)
The suit also cited an email, reportedly from a UCI dean to medical school faculty and residents, that stated there had been a substantial increase in “breakthrough infections” among vaccinated health care workers in the university.
On December 17, he announced his formal dismissal from UCI after being placed on investigatory leave since October. Kheriaty said that the UC system officials refused to allow him to use his accumulated paid time off after he was placed on an unpaid suspension that did not allow him to contact students or patients.
He also said that he was ordered to stay off-campus for being unvaccinated, but he could not take a vacation at home for the same reason. “In violation of every basic principle of just and fair employment, the university tried to prevent me from doing any outside professional activities while I was on unpaid suspension,” he wrote. (Related: 175 Employees fired from multi-state healthcare system for not getting vaccinated.)
He also said that the university is pressuring him to resign by restricting his ability to earn an income in and out of the university.
Despite lawsuits, Kehriaty said he isn’t bitter over the matter, as his colleagues were not responsible for his firing, Meanwhile, he believes that the people at the top of the UC system are simply misguided in their stance.
“I’m moving forward and moving on and looking for other professional opportunities,” he said.
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