George Mason professor suing school over vaccine mandate
ARLINGTON, Va. - A George Mason University law professor is suing the school over its vaccine mandate, arguing he shouldn't have to get vaccinated because he has natural immunity from COVID-19 antibodies.
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Todd Zywicki says this will be his 24th year teaching at Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington.
Zywicki says he's no anti-vaxxer.
"I've had COVID, I've lived through COVID, Zywicki said. "It was scary, it was scary for my family, and I don't want to get COVID again. I am not cavalier about this. If the vaccine had been around last year, March 2020, I would've gotten the vaccine."
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He says since getting the virus last March, he regularly gets tested for antibodies and continues to maintain high levels.
"This is the decision that I made with my immunologist," Zywicki said. "And I think that this is a decision that is best made by each person, especially in a situation like this where it's clear that my immune protection is very high."
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His lawsuit comes as the CDC says COVID reinfections among the unvaccinated are twice as likely than those who are vaccinated. It also comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to rule on vaccine mandates for the first time.
In Indiana, a group of students has sued to block the mandate at Indiana University. Lower courts sided with the school, and the students are now taking the issue to the country's highest court.
At George Mason, faculty and staff must have at least one COVID-19 vaccination by August 15 and submit proof of full vaccination by October. There is an option for an approved medical or religious exemption.
The deadline for students to be fully vaccinated was August 1.
When asked about concerns by students about being taught by an unvaccinated professor when they must be vaccinated, Zywicki said he's only heard support thus far.
"I've gotten nothing but favorable responses from my students. What I've heard from my students is that they are glad I'm standing up for this," he said.
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Zywicki said in addition to filing his lawsuit, he's also filed for a medical exemption from the vaccine.
He says if it's granted, he'll have to teach from home or wear a mask and stay socially distant, which he doesn't want to do.
He says even if the school's policy stands, he doesn't plan to leave his job.
George Mason provided an emailed statement saying:
George Mason University does not comment on specific ongoing litigation and therefore has no comment on the specifics of Dr. Zywicki's lawsuit. As it relates generally to the steps Mason is taking to protect its community against COVID-19, the decisions the University has made have been guided by currently available medical and scientific information and the guidance issued by federal and state public health agencies. Based on this information and guidance, we believe that the steps we are taking will best protect the health and safety of the Mason community and allow the Mason community to engage in a vibrant in-person campus experience.