Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Michigan State employee files lawsuit due to vaccine mandate

August 31, 2021
<p>Michigan State student Maddie Monroe gets the COVID-19 vaccine from her car at Sparrow Laboratories&#x27; Sears vaccine location March 29, 2021.</p>

Michigan State student Maddie Monroe gets the COVID-19 vaccine from her car at Sparrow Laboratories' Sears vaccine location March 29, 2021.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

Michigan State administrative associate and fiscal officer Jeanna Norris filed a lawsuit against MSU's administration on Friday in relation to the university's vaccine requirement.

According to the case of Norris v. Stanley, Norris tested positive for COVID-19, and after recovering, she tested positive for antibodies.

She and her immunologist Hooman Noorchashmm believe her antibody levels were sufficient in place of a vaccine.

"I think we're doing something very irrational in our country right now which is that we have half of the country which is vaccine-hesitant," Noorchashm said. "And the fact that they're being forced and coerced to do this I think is stoking vaccine hesitancy itself. I think it's very, very important to be respectful of people's experiences individually and not exercise medicine in a one-size-fits-all way."

However, natural immunity is not listed in MSU's COVID-19 directives as a reason for vaccine exemption. MSU spokespeople declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The lead attorney in this case, Jenin Younes, is from New Civil Liberties Alliance, or NCLA.

"It's important to Jeanna Norris because she does not want to get the vaccine because all medical procedures carry a risk of adverse effects," Younes said. "And while the vaccines appear to be relatively safe at a population-wide level, you can never be certain."

Norris' legal team submitted a complaint, a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order against MSU. Because there is "a potential for irreparable harm" according to Younes, these will keep Norris safe from possible termination.

"Norris's rights to bodily autonomy, to decline medical treatment, that the constitution recognizes and protects are being violated by this mandate," Younes said.

Younes knows there are exceptions, but she believes in this case, MSU has no interest in requiring Norris to get the vaccine.

"I think it's important to understand that we, the state of jurisprudence as it exists now, recognizes that the government can interfere with our rights to bodily autonomy to personal integrity," Younes said. "But it has to have some interest."

The argument is that Norris has immunity from the antibodies, therefore she no longer poses a threat to the public health of the MSU community and doesn't need a vaccine. Younes said recent studies reported in Israel National News found antibodies are more efficient than vaccines, backing the case. These studies are linked in the class-action complaint.

"What's happening with the way the media and various health officials are representing science is deeply troubling," Younes said. "The data, the literature is overwhelming that natural immunity is as good and frankly, now, better. We have the study from Israel now which is pretty unequivocal."

Younes hopes to see this issue resolved.

"There's been a real deterioration in science and the media's representation of science and I think a lot of scientists are taking a position that's unsupportable by the evidence and data for political reasons," Younes said.

As a lawyer at NCLA, Younes is noticing a trend of cases like this start to form. She thinks that public and private requirements of vaccines are unnecessary.

"It's problematic for many reasons," Younes said. "(People) are being banned from public life essentially."

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