Attorneys at Mendenhall Law Group in Akron have filed a lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati over the school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“School officials are overriding students’ civil rights to bodily autonomy under the United States and Ohio constitutions.  Young people do not experience this as a grave illness.  It is unprecedented for a university to require students to participate in experimental medical procedures such as injections or masking,” Warner Mendenhall told The Ohio Star Friday.

“COVID-19 injections and masking are not stopping spread. Those who get the shot do not protect anyone else. It is absurd that people are mistreated because they rely on natural immunity or innate immune defenses,” he continued. “Natural immunity should not be ignored because its protection is at least six times stronger than the injection. This is particularly true given the new Omicron strain that is circulating.  We want university officials to end all mandates and not treat people differently.”

The complaint for injunctive relief was filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Hamilton County. Four University of Cincinnati students, Benjamin Lipp, Danielle Seymore, Katelyn Verbarg and Nicholai Lekson, are plaintiffs in the case.

Attorney Thomas Connors of Mendenhall Law Group also spoke with The Star.

“Ohio law bars public universities from mandating emergency use authorized Covid-19 vaccines. Comirnaty is the only FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine, but it is not presently available to the best of our knowledge,” he said. “The Ohio Department of Health that distributes the vaccines, refuses to tell us whether Comirnaty is available, saying that the information is too political.  Our government officials need to respect Ohio law barring public university mandates of emergency use Covid-19 vaccines.”

Connors was referring to HB 244, which was signed into law on July 14, but went into effect on Oct. 13, well after the school year began.

Monday, Pfizer confirmed to The Star that it is still distributing the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) version of its vaccine, though it contends that the vaccines are “interchangeable” for medical purposes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concedes that the two versions of the vaccine are “legally distinct.”

Since the publication of that story, The Star has sought clarification from several different entities in Ohio.

OhioHealth, a large healthcare provider that has 12 hospitals under its umbrella, said it is still distributing the EUA vaccine.

The Star asked public universities throughout the state, including the University of Cincinnati, whether they are distributing Comirnaty or the EUA version of the Pfizer vaccine. None have have not returned comment requests.

The Star also reached out to Gov. Mike Dewine’s office, along with Attorney General Dave Yost’s office to ask them whether they would investigate whether the universities are following the law. After multiple inquiries to the respective offices, neither has returned a comment request.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) declined to comment on which version of the vaccine it is procuring and distributing, something which the Mendenhall Law Group is also trying to find out.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “University of Cincinnati Students” by the University of Cincinnati.