Media Roundup 12/21/21
Who knew that I just needed to get fired to get more attention on my case against mandates?
Here’s a link to my interview last night with Shannon Bream where we discuss the story of my being fired from the University and the related issue of vaccine mandates—an issue that is not going away. The University of California just announced that all UC healthcare employees are required to get a booster shot by January 31. Several physicians at the University who reluctantly took the vaccine but will refuse the boosters have already reached out to me. As I said at the end of this interview, the one thing the vaccinated and unvaccinated now have in common is that neither of us will ever be “fully vaccinated,” since the definition of that term keeps changing. By the way, if you squint you might notice I wore my UCI tie for the interview, since the University has not asked for it back yet. (I do think I need to work on my TV smile—I actually am in good spirits, contrary to appearances here):
My friend and colleague Ryan Anderson at the Ethics and Public Policy Center published a very fine article in Newsweek today which opens with my story. Ryan cogently argues that one can be both pro-vaccine and anti-mandate. The piece begins:
Last Thursday, the University of California fired my good friend and new colleague, Aaron Kheriaty, for refusing vaccination. The next day, a federal circuit court allowed President Joe Biden's OSHA vaccine mandate to take effect throughout the United States, meaning many other citizens may soon be penalized. But we should not treat conscientious objectors to the vaccine like this.
Dr. Kheriaty, a physician and psychiatrist, has taught and treated patients at the UC-Irvine Hospital and Medical School for 15 years. He has also directed the medical school's bioethics program.
When COVID hit, Dr. Kheriaty helped the hospital develop ethics guidelines. He treated COVID patients throughout the pandemic, including when everyone was most concerned about the virus' lethality. As a result, he caught the virus and developed natural immunity.
When vaccines became available earlier this year, Dr. Kheriaty declined to be vaccinated, arguing that his natural immunity provided more protection. In his calculation, the added risks of a novel vaccine were not justified for his personal situation. Rather than respect his medical judgment, UC-Irvine fired him. Now, he directs the Bioethics Program at the research institute I run, the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Kheriaty and I made different decisions about the COVID vaccination. I suffer from a chronic autoimmune disease and take immunosuppressant medications that increase the risk of upper respiratory infection. It made sense for me to get vaccinated, notwithstanding the medical unknowns and the vaccines' link to fetal cell lines originally procured from aborted children. I have argued that a pro-lifer can, in good conscience, receive the vaccine. But to say that people may do so isn't to say that they must, or should be forced to, do so.
Nor should people who reach a different judgment be fired, banned from restaurants or ostracized from polite society. I employ people with a diversity of views on the religious and moral acceptability of the vaccine, and would never dream of forcing any of them to violate their consciences on this. But the Biden administration, Big Business and many state governors think otherwise.
Ryan also mentions my FOIA request to the FDA and their lack of transparency in responding:
Yet, while the president is mandating vaccination, the FDA is refusing to release the safety data used in approving the Pfizer vaccine, suggesting in response to Dr. Kheriaty's FOIA request that the public should not see the data until 2076. This lack of transparency—especially in conjunction with the federal mandate—is simply unconscionable. To add insult to injury, before OSHA issued its vaccine mandate on a third of the American workforce, it lifted a requirement that employers track and report adverse health consequences of vaccination for their employees. It is inexplicable that the federal agency charged with tracking workplace health and safety incidents would simultaneously impose a vaccine mandate and eliminate a requirement to track the adverse consequences of the vaccine.
The entire article is worth reading.
Another friend and colleague, Kathryn Jean Lopez published a story this week about my saga with the University for National Review, which opens:
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty has been fired from the University of California Irvine, where he has worked as a professor at UCI School of Medicine and director of the Medical Ethics Program at UCI Health for almost 15 years. Back in the spring of 2020, he could have been a poster boy for the medical professionals we were cheering on every night. That was then. It seems that he has not only been dismissed because he is unvaccinated, but because he has dared to make the medical argument that natural immunity puts people in a similar—or better—place than a vaccine against Covid-19. I’m not a doctor, and I’d like to think doctors are free to raise questions based on their scientific judgment.
Kheriaty is not the only doctor I know who has found himself in situations where it is understood that you are to go along and not raise questions when it comes to Covid-19 protocols….
An added injustice would be to not shed light on what’s happening. At one point this fall, when Dr. Kheriaty was still on forced leave, I tried to post a video commentary to YouTube about his situation and it was rejected as vaccine misinformation — to simply talk about what was happening. I myself do not know anything about Covid-19 except my own experiences and what doctors tell me, because I am not a doctor. It’s amazing how many of us think we are. And it’s terrifying when doctors suppress scientific debate.
Finally, the Epoch Times also ran a piece today telling my story. It looks like it may be behind a paywall, so I’m including several excerpts here:
Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, the longtime professor of psychiatry at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine who sued the university over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate because it made no exceptions for natural immunity, has been fired by the institution for refusing the vaccine.
In a blog post titled “Farewell, University of California,” Dr. Kheriaty said he received notice of what he called his “arbitrary and capricious” firing on Dec. 16. It was effective the same day. The termination ends his UCI medical teaching career and his longtime role as director of the Medical Ethics Program at UCI Health.
Kheriaty said he worked unpaid nights helping the UCI president’s office draft triage guidelines for scarce resources and vaccines during the pandemic. When N-95 masks were so scarce that hospitals kept them under lock and key, Kheriaty said he found a supply at a local construction company and provided them to doctors and nurses.
“Everyone at the university seemed to be a fan of my work, until suddenly they were not,” Kheriaty wrote. “Once I challenged one of their policies, I immediately became a ‘threat to the health and safety of the community.’ No amount of empirical evidence about natural immunity or vaccine safety and efficacy mattered at all.
Kheriaty said the university tried to prevent him from doing any professional work while he was on unpaid suspension, in an effort to pressure him to resign from a job he held for 15 years. He said he was not allowed on campus except to move out of his office. Kheriaty was also restricted from making money off-campus. “It was dizzying and, at times, surreal,” he wrote.
The firing decision, he said, was not made by the psychiatry department but by the UCI president’s office. Asked by The Epoch Times for more information about Dr. Kheriaty’s firing, UCI spokesman Tom Vasich wrote, “UCI does not comment on personnel issues.” Kheriaty was on unpaid suspension after initially being placed on “investigatory leave.”
“Now it’s officially over,” Kheriaty wrote on his blog. “I do not regret my time at the university. Indeed, I will miss my colleagues, the residents, and the medical students. I will miss teaching and supervising and doing ethics consults on some of the most challenging cases in the hospital.”
Kheriaty sued the University of California Board of Regents in federal court on Aug. 18, alleging the university’s vaccine mandate violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In July 2020, Kheriaty contracted COVID-19, so he now has natural immunity that he argues is likely superior to protection from a vaccine.
In his lawsuit, he highlighted the failure of vaccine mandates to account for the likely superior immunity possessed by COVID-19 survivors. His faculty colleagues at the University of California filed a 187-page declaration supporting the efficacy of natural immunity.
As a COVID-19 survivor, Kheriaty said, his immunity to the disease is between 95 and 99 percent effective. There is not one case on record of someone who recovered from COVID-19 and then was re-infected and transmitted the virus to someone else, he said in October. This sterilizing immunity is an advantage the human immune system has over any COVID-19 vaccine, he argued, noting the declining efficacy of the mRNA vaccines over time.
He said he worked every day during the pandemic, seeing regular patients and COVID patients in the emergency room, the clinic, psychiatric wards, and hospital wards.
“As our chief ethics consultant, I had countless conversations with families of patients dying of COVID, and tried my best to console and guide them in their grief,” he wrote.
In an upcoming post I’ll include another recent article by an Australian investigative reporter on the initial data released by the FDA in response to my FOIA request. By the way, the latest from the FDA on this is that they are now requesting not 55 years, but 75 years, to release all the data on the Pfizer vaccine. So your grandchildren will be able to see it in 2096. We’ll see what the judge thinks.
Merry Christmas to all of you, faithful readers!
Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis.