An amended lawsuit filed Aug. 19 urges a court to rule against Rhode Island’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, pointing in part to updated COVID-19 guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. Stephen Skoly is challenging Rhode Island’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, alleging it unconstitutionally discriminates against people with protection from prior infection.
The mandate imposed by state officials allowed medical exemptions but not ones on the basis of prior infection, or natural immunity. That violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, according to the 34-page complaint, filed in federal court in Rhode Island.
The mandate “irrationally discriminates between different types of unvaccinated health care workers—the preferred unvaccinated (those with accepted medical exemptions) are allowed to wear N95 masks and work, and the unpreferred (those with a not accepted medical condition, or natural immunity, or a religious belief) are compelled to suffer loss of livelihood however willing to be N95 masked,” it states.
Skoly has suffered from Bell’s Palsy, a condition that has been linked to COVID-19 vaccines. He has also recovered from COVID-19, which gives him a high level of protection. After consulting with his doctor, Skoly decided not to get vaccinated.
Lawyers for Skoly listed two studies showing that natural immunity is superior to vaccination. They also noted how the CDC on Aug. 11 changed its guidance, which is utilized by officials across the country in imposing regulations.
The guidance says that the risk for severe COVID-19 “is considerably reduced by immunity derived from vaccination, previous infection, or both” and that people “who have had COVID-19 but are not vaccinated have some degree of protection against severe illness from their previous infection.” It also rescinds stricter quarantine for unvaccinated people.
“Even the CDC has finally admitted that it makes no sense to distinguish between vaccine immunity and natural immunity,” the suit says.
It asks the court for damages and to permanently block state officials from enforcing the mandate against him, as well as unemployment benefits and an injunction against a future denial of unemployment benefits.