Several students at Ohio University have filed a lawsuit against the school over its COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
“Everyone who wants to be vaccinated has been vaccinated at Ohio University,” Tyce Patt, one of the plaintiffs, told The Ohio Star. “I believe it is not only wrong to force students to get an experimental Emergency Use Authorized vaccine to go to class, but also Illegal.”
Patt is a junior at the school. He studies marketing and psychology.
A flurry of lawsuits are in progress against Ohio’s public universities after they imposed vaccination mandates for their students.
Mendenhall Law Group, which is suing the University of Cincinnati and Miami University over their vaccine mandates, is also representing Patt. Patt is one of several student plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
July 14, HB 244 was signed into law. That law prevents Ohio’s public universities from mandating vaccines that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It went into effect on Oct. 13.
On August 23, the FDA fully approved Pfizer’s vaccine called Comirnaty.
But as The Ohio Star confirmed last week, Pfizer is not shipping that vaccine. Instead, it is still shipping the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which is only approved for use under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
Before the school year began, Ohio University announced its vaccine mandate.
He reached out to Gillian H. Ice, the school’s Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations, by email on the same day HB 244 was signed into law.
After noting that HB 244 outlawed the mandate, Patt told Ice that “[t]he school should no longer request students to submit their medical information and vaccination status, if the school still wants to know for data make it optional.
“After the poor response rates and months of students ignoring the request to pick a path and feel separated it seems like the obvious answer is to make to pathway program completely optional,” he said in the email. “In addition, unvaccinated students cannot be forced to wear a mask when vaccinated kids do not have to as this would also be unlawful.”
Ice responded by telling Patt that the law did not take effect until October, and that the school would move forward with the mandates.
“After that, if the vaccine is not fully approved as expected, we will shift to a different public health strategy,” Ice said. “At the start of the semester, students who are unvaccinated are required to test once per week. All students are required to declare a pathway or they will automatically be placed into the weekly testing pathway.”
Though Comirnaty was approved in August, before HB 244 took effect, it is still not available at the time of this writing, well after the law took effect.
The suit also argues that the state lacks the authority to impose COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated students who have not been diagnosed with the virus. Unvaccinated students at Ohio University must produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to participate in certain activities. In addition, the suit says that the vaccine mandates violate Ohio’s constitution, which guarantees the state’s citizens the right to refuse medical treatment.
“The administration has been very intolerant towards unvaccinated students, In my email about the myocarditis risk Gillian Ice our public health advisor replied to me and at the end she told me she looked up my vaccination status and testing status and ordered me to get a test,” Patt told The Star.
Patt said students have been thrown out of classes for not wearing masks over their noses, and not permitted to attend classes if they forget their masks.
He said many vaccinated students have also become hostile towards the unvaccinated.
Patt created a petition demanding that the school’s administration make masking, COVID-19 testing, and vaccinations strictly optional.
For that, the Student Senate released a statement accusing Patt of “a blatant disregard for human rights.” For mentioning the Nuremberg code, the Student Senate tacitly accused him of bigotry, and called his opinions “derogatory, demeaning, and disrespectful.”
“I just can’t understand why I would take a Vaccine still being tested for a virus that poses very little risk to me,” Patt said. “I had hoped Ohio University would update their health response and make masking, testing, and vaccinating fully optional. It doesn’t seem they have any interest in doing that, Now we hope we can make more progress with our lawsuit.”
The case is Martin et. al v The University of Ohio, No. 21CI0221 in the Athens County Court of Common Pleas.
Read the court filing here:
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