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The approved version of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is not available in the United States more than a month after drug regulators approved it, The Epoch Times has found.

Officials in 19 states confirmed this week they have not received the approved version, known as Comirnaty. So did pharmacies in New York, California, and Missouri.

A Pfizer spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email that there are no doses of Comirnaty in the United States as of Oct. 12.

The lack of availability means vaccine mandates based on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval are unlawful, lawyers representing clients challenging the requirements say.

“Under the emergency use authorization, everyone has an option to accept or refuse the product. And that means every person, military and civilian. So this is critical. All of the mandates, from the military to the civilian population, are violating federal law,” Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal group, told The Epoch Times.

The situation would be different if Comirnaty was available, he said.

Contact with state and federal officials and pharmacies revealed widespread confusion regarding the differences between the approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the version that received emergency use authorization (EUA) in December 2020 and continues to be administered under EUA now.

A number of officials were unaware of any differences and others insisted they were the same for all intents and purposes, including several officials with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which handles distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

“It’s the same thing,” an HHS official told The Epoch Times.

That’s a different message than that being sent to states, some of which have been told by federal officials not to expect doses of Comirnaty for a while.

“The CDC anticipates that Comirnaty will begin to ship some time in November at the earliest,” a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Health told The Epoch Times in an email, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The Maryland Department of Health has been told by the CDC that Comirnaty will not ship until the end of October/beginning of November,” a spokesman with the Maryland Department of Health told The Epoch Times in an email.

“According to the latest update DOH has received from the CDC, shipments of Comirnaty likely won’t begin until next month,” a spokeswoman with the Washington State Department of Health told The Epoch Times in an email.

“We don’t expect vials with the brand name ‘Comirnaty’ affixed to them to be delivered until later in the year,” a spokesman with the Idaho Department of Health told The Epoch Times in an email.

A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Health Department said that the federal government still has a large amount of the authorized doses and there is no timeline on when Comirnaty will be shipped.

The only state expecting doses soon is Delaware. Officials there were told 5,850 doses manufactured after the Aug. 23 approval date should arrive this week, a spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Health said.

The FDA referred questions to the CDC and HHS. The CDC did not respond to repeated queries. The HHS official who wasn’t aware of the differences alleged approved doses were available, but said she was “puzzled” by followup questions on when they started being available and how many are available and ultimately referred questions to the FDA. A different HHS official indicated the agency is not tracking when approved doses enter the distribution system.

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The FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Aug. 23. On the same day, the drug regulator extended the EUA for existing doses and for children between 12 and 15.

The approval triggered vaccine mandates across the country, including for the Department of Defense. Many officials said they were waiting for the approval to impose mandates.

In the letter extending the EUA, Denise Hinton, the FDA’s chief scientist, said the vaccines are “legally distinct with certain differences that do not impact safety or effectiveness.” The letter is no longer available on the FDA’s website, though the same language is used in an FAQ on the approved vaccine, known as Comirnaty.

The FDA has declined to say what the differences are. Pfizer told The Epoch Times previously that they refer to certain manufacturing processes.Signage is seen outside of the Food and 

In a followup missive on Sept. 22, Hinton wrote that the authorized and approved versions have “the same formulation” and that the products “can be used interchangeably to provide the vaccination series without presenting any safety or effectiveness concerns.”

Staver said that’s not accurate. “You cannot interchange BioNTech’s Cominarty with Pfizer’s [shot] from a legal standpoint. They are legally distinct,” he said.

“The FDA-approved Comirnaty and the EUA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have the same formulation and, according to the FDA labeling, can be used interchangeably to provide the COVID-19 vaccination series,” a Pfizer spokesman told The Epoch Times.

Federal agencies in various documents have indicated recently there is little or no Comirnaty supply in the country.

Both of Hinton’s letters stated that there is an insufficient supply of Comirnaty in the United States to distribute to the U.S. population in its entirety.

A document posted by the CDC last month said Pfizer “does not plan to produce any product” with new labeling, referring to Comirnaty, “over the next few months while EUA authorized product is still available and being made available for U.S. distribution.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has questioned (pdf) why the existing doses were not approved and, given the lack of Comirnaty supply, whether the FDA was “de facto endorsing vaccine mandates utilizing EUA vaccines?”

The FDA declined to answer questions on the approval process. Several experts told The Epoch Times that federal law appears to preclude approving existing authorized products.

To cast a wider net on the matter, The Epoch Times also contacted 12 private companies, mostly pharmacies involved in vaccine administration.

Walgreens, Kroger, H-E-B Pharmacy, Publix Pharmacy, Thrifty White Pharmacy, the Mayo Clinic, and Novant Health did not respond to requests for comment. CVS referred questions to the federal government. Northwell Health, a New York health care system, declined to comment.

The Legacy Specialty Pharmacy in Queens, New York said they do not have Comirnaty doses. A pharmacist at Lorena Pharmacy said he was not aware of any differences and thought the approval in August was only for booster doses, indicating they do not have Comirnaty. A pharmacist at Kilgore’s Medical Pharmacy in Missouri said they only get Moderna vaccine doses.

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Judge allows New York health care workers to seek religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine

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The ruling only grants short-term relief as the lawsuit makes it through the court system.

New York health care workers can continue seeking religious exemptions to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, following a federal judge’s ruling Tuesday. 

According to The Hill, Judge David Hurd issued a temporary injunction barring New York from enforcing its vaccine mandate that prohibits religious exemptions for health care workers.

Hurd previously issued a preliminary restraining order against the state after 17 medical professionals sued New York, claiming the mandate violated their constitutional rights.

The recent ruling only grants short-term relief as the lawsuit makes it through the court system.

According to the Associated Press, Hurd’s decision also prevents the state from revoking previously granted religious exemptions.

In the ruling, Hurd alluded to the potential success of the lawsuit, saying the vaccine mandate “conflicts with plaintiffs’ and other individuals’ federally protected right to seek a religious accommodation from their individual employers.”

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Despite the court’s ruling, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul plans on challenging the judge’s decision, and remains confident that this type of vaccine mandate is necessary for people working in health care.

“My responsibility as governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that,” Hochul said in a statement. “I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Currently, about 64% of the entire state of New York is vaccinated against COVID-19. 

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COVID-19 vaccine mandate challenges falter as judges shrug at natural immunity evidence

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Judge ignores “battle of the experts,” finds that mandate opponents must prove rule “is not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.” 

Legal challenges to COVID-19 vaccine mandates on the basis of natural immunity are faltering, even as more research shows the comparable durability of the protection that natural antibodies afford against infection.

U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney denied a preliminary injunction Friday against Michigan State University’s mandate, citing an order last month that left in place the University of California’s mandate as litigation proceeds.

The course of litigation seems to be substantiating a warning by University of Notre Dame Law Professor Gerard Bradley, a vocal critic of mandates, that judges would be “very wary” of lawsuits that are “very heavily dependent upon medical facts and statistics.”

Religious challenges are faring better. A federal judge Tuesday blocked New York Gov. Kathy Hochul from removing religious exemptions from a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers originally imposed by her predecessor, the disgraced Andrew Cuomo.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is also seeking to “clarify” a state law that bans discrimination by public or private institutions based on a person’s “conscientious refusal to receive” healthcare services.

Pritzker’s spokesperson told ABC 7 the Health Care Right of Conscience Act is at risk of being “misinterpreted by fringe elements.” The Fraternal Order of Police said it’s considering invoking the law against Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s COVID vaccine mandate for city employees.

As noted by the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), which is representing MSU employee Jeanna Morris, Judge Maloney previously issued an injunction against a vaccine mandate that violated the religious beliefs of student athletes, who “had no immunity whatsoever.” 

The public interest law firm didn’t answer a query from Just the News on whether it plans to revisit its litigation strategy in the wake of these setbacks. Its first natural immunity challenge prompted George Mason University to issue a medical exemption to law professor Todd Zywicki, but the vaccine mandate remains in force.

The latest study to verify the protective power of natural immunity was published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.

In a study of more than 800,000 Swedish families, Scandinavian university researchers found that family members without “immunity” — prior infection or vaccination — had a 45-97% lower risk of COVID infection “as the number of immune family members increased.”

“The results were similar for the outcome of COVID-19 infection that was severe enough to warrant a hospital stay,” they wrote. Notably, the researchers weren’t able to perform a sensitivity analysis in fully vaccinated individuals because too few participated in the study.

Vaccination is also proving insufficient to protect older people, according to U.K. government figures published last week that showed fully vaccinated older age groups now had higher infection rates than unvaccinated younger age groups.
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‘Battle of experts’ 

Judge Maloney determined that “no fundamental right is implicated” by MSU’s vaccine mandate, meaning employees must prove the policy “is not rationally related to a legitimate government interest.” 

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While Morris is “absolutely correct” that the 14th Amendment protects her right to privacy and bodily integrity, she has “no fundamental right to decline a vaccination” and yet remain employed, Maloney wrote, saying she’s unlikely to prevail.

The judge cited a 1985 ruling upholding mandatory childhood vaccination against a challenge based on philosophical as opposed to religious beliefs. That court noted that the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, which found a constitutional right to abortion, specifically distinguished its holding from the 1905 Jacobson precedent that upheld mandatory vaccination.

It’s irrelevant that the Massachusetts law challenged by Henning Jacobson was legislatively decreed and made no provision for natural immunity, Maloney wrote.

“Over the last year and a half, courts have looked to Jacobson to infer that a rational basis standard applies to generally applicable vaccine mandates; the facts of the case are obviously not going to be identical to every COVID vaccine case that has been or is currently being litigated,” the judge said.

He cited U.S. District Judge James Selna’s refusal to halt the University of California mandate in the face of natural immunity research as “persuasive authority” for his own ruling. 

In the “battle of the experts” retained by NCLA and MSU, it’s clear “there is ongoing scientific debate about the effectiveness of naturally acquired immunity versus vaccine immunity” — and it doesn’t help Morris’s case, Maloney wrote.

The university is acting rationally by relying on state and federal guidance from “agencies that have extensively studied the COVID-19 vaccine,” and their view is that “the harm to others and the public could be serious” if MSU’s mandate isn’t enforced.

Morris is also not facing “irreparable harm” from her refusal to get vaccinated, a condition for a preliminary injunction, because she could eventually recover monetary damages from improper termination, Maloney said.

While more than 1,000 universities have COVID vaccine mandates as tracked by The Chronicle of Higher Education, not all large employers are mandating jabs.

Computer chip giant Intel reaffirmed Oct. 1 that it was still not requiring vaccination for its workforce, only requiring them to follow local laws. Managers may not ask for workers’ vaccination status, and employees are not allowed to decline to work with unvaccinated colleagues.

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Oregon Senators Call for Investigation Into Alleged COVID-19 Statistical Manipulation

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Oregon state Sens. Kim Thatcher and Dennis Linthicum, both Republicans, have petitioned Acting U.S. Attorney Scott E. Asphaug to launch a grand jury investigation into the measurement of COVID-19 statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Thatcher and Linthicum submitted the petition in a letter (pdf) on Aug. 16 after gathering signatures from 1,718 Oregonians and 53,032 Americans.

In the petition, the senators expressed concerns over the measurement and reporting of COVID-19 vaccine adverse reactions including fatalities and injuries.

The lawmakers stated that a whistleblower, under sworn testimony, said the data reported under the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System may have been underreported by a factor of five.

Regarding the diagnosis of COVID-19 through widely-used PCR tests, the senators said that the CDC and the FDA’s setting of one particular test parameter—the cycle threshold—generated “false positives resulting in inflated numbers of COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.”

Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Michael Mina told The New York Times in August 2020 that tests with too high of a threshold may detect not just live viruses but also genetic fragments. Mina suggested setting the cut-off at 30 cycles or less.

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Thatcher expressed concern over the cycle threshold of 28 when testing vaccinated individuals. According to the petition, a low cut-off is likely to “eliminate false positive results and thereby reduce the number of vaccine ‘breakthrough’ cases.”

Thatcher and Linthicum said that they consulted large groups of doctors, epidemiologists, and virologists on the subject of COVID-19 statistical reporting.

“Additionally, we are profoundly concerned that the scientific literature continues to provide empirical evidence that safe and effective treatments and management strategies for COVID infections exist but are not being made available to Americans most in need,” continued the letter.

Stand for Health Freedom (SHF), a non-profit organization that helped with the petition, said in a statement that the petition was submitted one month before public release to “protect those involved.”

SHF also cited a March 2020 study (pdf) alleging that the CDC over-emphasized COVID-19 as the cause of death in compiling its statistics while “circumvent[ing] multiple federal laws” in the process.

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‘Playing hardball’: Biden plans massive new fines for businesses violating vax mandate: watchdog

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Under $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, businesses not complying with Biden OSHA vaccine mandate would be subject to fines ranging from $70,000 to $700,000, according to OpenTheBooks.com.

Tucked inside the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that passed out of the House Budget Committee are exorbitant new fines — ranging from $70,000 to $700,000 — that would apply to companies defying President Joe Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate, alleges Adam Andrzejewski, CEO/founder of OpenTheBooks.com. 

If the provisions of the bill are implemented, the fines could bankrupt all non-compliant companies, warns the government spending watchdog.

“Buried on page 168 of the House Democrats’ 2,465-page mega bill is a tenfold increase in fines for employers that ‘willfully,’ ‘repeatedly,’ or even seriously violate a section of labor law that deals with hazards, death, or serious physical harm to their employees,” Andrzejewski writes in Forbes.

Last month, Biden announced by executive fiat that all private-sector businesses with 100 or more employees must comply with his most recent vaccine mandate, or pay a potential fine of $14,000 per violation. The order would impact more than 80 million Americans.

Open The Books argues violators would be subject to the drastically steeper new fines in the budget reconciliation bill.

According to the bill markup, Section 21004 of the OSHA Act of 1970 would be amended to increase fines in the Adjustment of Civil Monetary Penalties section. The changes made by the Democrat-controlled committee would increase the maximum penalty to $700,000 for willful and repeat violations; increase the minimum penalty to $50,000 for willful violations; and increase the maximum penalty for both serious and failure-to-abate violations to $70,000.

A senior House Democratic aide denied the stiffened penalties are targeted specifically at vaccine mandate non-compliance. Noting the fines fall under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Education and Labor, the aide argued the provisions are related to labor law enforcement more broadly.

The fines were “marked up in committee and are not explicitly related to vaccines — just generally increase the level of fines that OSHA is able to levy when an employer is in violation,” the Democratic aide told Just The News.

The bill markup also amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to increase penalties and fines. It increases maximum civil penalties to: 

  • $132,270 for child labor violations;
  • $601,150 for child labor violations that cause the death or serious injury of an employee under the age of 18;
  • $20,740 for willful or repeated minimum wage or overtime violations;
  • $11,620 for tip violations. 

It also amends the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act of 1983 to increase the maximum civil penalty for violations of the law to $25,790.

Andrzejewski remains skeptical. “The push to increase the fines up to $700,000 per willful and repeated violation,” he countered, “was the anticipated emergency rule that OSHA will publish in the Federal Register allowing them jurisdiction to enforce Biden’s vax mandate on private companies. Period.”

The House aide “doesn’t deny that the fines would be levied as the enforcement mechanism of the president’s vax mandate,” he added. “That’s because Biden and the Democrats are playing hardball. Comply or face bankruptcy.”

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Just The News contacted OSHA to provide clarification on whether enforcement of new fine ceilings will be applied to vax violators, but did not receive a response.

The changes come after Biden issued an ominous warning to the millions of Americans who refuse to get the COVID jabs. “We’ve been patient,” said the president. “But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.” 

In June, prior to Biden’s executive order last month, OSHA published an emergency rule in the Federal Register stating it would have jurisdiction over COVID safety enforcement. Invoking the obscure Emergency Temporary Standard provision, the agency claimed the authority to enforce the mandate and impose fines, OpenTheBooks explains. The ETS has been used only 10 times in the agency’s 50-year history, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

Worse, argues the religious liberty legal aid nonprofit Liberty Counsel, the federal government would be imposing draconian fines on companies for not complying with an illegal mandate. 

Technically, Liberty Counsel contends, the COVID shots are available only under Emergency Use Authorization, which under federal law requires that they only be administered on a voluntarily basis. 

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has done a bait and switch by announcing it approved its ‘first COVID-19 vaccine’ in order to push the ‘vaccine’ mandates and protect the Pfizer pharmaceutical company from legal liability,” Liberty Counsel said in August. “However, there is currently no fully licensed COVID shot on the United States market.” 

Even if a fully licensed vaccine was available, it still couldn’t be mandatory, argues Liberty Counsel, because Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act allows for religious exceptions.

“Employees and employers have constitutional protections against this lawless Biden mandate,” the organization’s founder and chairman Mat Staver says, adding that Liberty Counsel will “challenge his lawless executive order.”

In response to threats of lawsuits or Republican governors who have challenged the mandate, Biden said: “Have at it. We’re playing for real here. This isn’t a game.”

But 27 governors or attorneys general have vowed to fight it, including Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has sparred with Biden over mask mandates and vaccine passports.

“When you have a president like Biden issuing unconstitutional edicts against the American people, we have a responsibility to stand up for the Constitution and to fight back, and we are doing that in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “This is a president who has acknowledged in the past he does not have the authority to force this on anybody, and this order would result potentially in millions of Americans losing their jobs.”

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Idaho’s lieutenant governor bans vaccine mandates while governor is away

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Idaho’s lieutenant governor bans vaccine mandates while governor is away

Idaho GOP Gov. Brad Little was in Texas this week, says he’ll rescind order upon return

Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin issued an executive order Tuesday substituting vaccine mandates for mandatory coronavirus testing in schools and colleges – prompting Gov. Brad Little, who is away at the U.S.-Mexico border, to say he had not authorized his second-in-command to act on his behalf.

Little says he will rescind any executive orders issued by McGeachin, a fellow Republican, while he is away, including McGeachin’s attempt to mobilize Idaho National Guard troops to send to the border.

“I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf. I will be rescinding and reversing any actions taken by the Lt. Governor when I return,” Little said.

He is expected back in his state on Wednesday. 

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Little was in Texas this week meeting with nine other Republican governors to discuss the crisis at the southern border.

McGeachin is angling for Little’s job come the 2022 election. In Idaho, the governor and lieutenant governor do not run on the same ticket, and Little and McGeachin have long had political differences. 

This is not the first time McGeachin has taken an opportunity to utilize the governor’s absence from the state to her own political ends. In May, she issued an executive order banning mask mandates, which Little overturned once he was back in Idaho. 

The order issued by McGeachin this week would prevent employers from requiring their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. It is an extension of the order Little issued in April that banned mandates at state facilities not including schools. 

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Los Angeles will require proof of vaccination to enter a range of businesses

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L.A. will become by far the largest city in the state to require vaccine passports

The city of Los Angeles will begin requiring most people to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination before entering a wide variety of indoor businesses including salons, restaurants, gyms, museums and theaters. 

The law was approved Wednesday by the City Council and will take effect Nov. 4, which officials say should give businesses enough time to figure out how to enforce the law.

Those with medical conditions that do not allow them to be vaccinated, or those with sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from being vaccinated, will be allowed to instead show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours.

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Some businesses in L.A. have already begun asking for proof of vaccine, and in the state, health care worker vaccine requirements have helped increase vaccination rates at major health systems. 

California  has one of the country’s lowest case rates for the novel virus, coupled with some of the strictest rules. An estimated 70% of California residents aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced that all school children will soon be required to be vaccinated – the first requirement of its sort in the nation. 

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White House: Some Federal Workers With Valid Vaccine Exemptions Could Still Be Fired

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White House officials said President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all federal workers and contractors allows for some religious or medical exemptions, but agencies may still fire certain employees where no other safety protocols are enough.

“There may be circumstances in which an agency determines that the nature of an employee’s job responsibilities requires heightened safety protocols if they are provided with a legally required exception,” according to new guidance posted on the federal government’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force website this week. “In some cases, the nature of the employee’s job may be such that an agency determines that no safety protocol other than vaccination is adequate. In such circumstances, the agency may deny the requested accommodation.”

The task force said that in most cases, unvaccinated employees would have to maintain social distancing, submit to regular testing, and wear masks. But some agencies may require more measures in some cases, depending on the employee’s job.

“Determining whether an exception is legally required will include consideration of factors such as the basis for the claim; the nature of the employee’s job responsibilities; and the reasonably foreseeable effects on the agency’s operations, including protecting other agency employees and the public from COVID-19,” the task force said in the update.

In creating a medical or religious exception, employees have to sign and declare their responses are accurate, according to a sample template provided by the task force.

“Any intentional misrepresentation to the federal government may result in legal consequences, including termination or removal from federal service,” one of the forms read.

For those seeking (pdf) a religious exemption, the form asks employees to say why they are objecting to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“To be eligible for a possible exception, you must first establish that your refusal to be vaccinated is based upon a sincere belief that is religious in nature,” the sample form stated. “A refusal to be vaccinated does not qualify for an exception if it is based upon personal preference, concerns about the possible effects of the vaccine or political opinions.”

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White House officials confirmed earlier this month that all executive branch employees and contractors need to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 8 with any of the three vaccines.

In a memo (pdf) released on Oct. 1, the White House’s  Office of Personnel Management (OPM) advised federal workers shouldn’t wait until the last minute to get vaccinated because “other events often interfere with even well-laid plans.”

“Employees who refuse to be vaccinated or provide proof of vaccination are subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including removal or termination from Federal service,” said the letter. “The only exception is for individuals who receive a legally required exception pursuant to established agency processes.”

On Sept. 9, Biden announced sweeping measures targeting the federal government, the health care sector, and private businesses. Meanwhile, a number of Republican-led states and federal workers filed lawsuits against the Biden administration, arguing that his mandate is tantamount to federal overreach.

A group of federal employees filed a lawsuit against Biden in September, arguing that his executive order unfairly affects those of Christian faith. Other plaintiffs argued that the vaccine mandate doesn’t make any mention of “natural immunity” granted by a previous COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

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Court Sides With Unvaccinated Michigan Athletes in Mandate Case

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Sixteen unvaccinated athletes won another round in their legal battle to play sports, despite Western Michigan University’s mandate that all of its inter-collegiate athletes get the COVID-19 vaccination shot.

In a unanimous published decision issued Oct. 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio, held that the university violated the athletes’ First Amendment rights.

All 16 athletes had filed for religious exemptions, which, according to the court, the university “ignored or denied.”

The court stated: “The university put plaintiffs to the choice: Get vaccinated, or stop fully participating in intercollegiate sports. By conditioning the privilege of playing sports on plaintiffs’ willingness to abandon their sincere religious beliefs, the university burdened their free exercise rights.”

The three-judge panel denied a request by the university to stay a lower court’s preliminary injunction that stopped it from enforcing the vaccination mandate.

The mandate would have barred the athletes from playing in games, or even practicing with their teams, unless they were immunized against the CCP virus (Chinese Communist Party virus, a.k.a. COVID-19).

Attorney David Kallman, senior counsel with the Great Lakes Justice Center, who represents the athletes, told the Epoch Times: “It’s a great win for our clients and for religious liberty.”

According to Kallman the court’s decision is now a “binding precedent” in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

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In a press release, Kallman wrote: “The Sixth Circuit Court vindicated their (his clients) religious convictions and that they can continue to be part of their teams.

“We trust all parties can move forward in a spirit of cooperation to uphold the important constitutional issues at stake, as well as taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety of everyone at WMU.”

The order affirms: “The First Amendment, as incorporated through the 14th Amendment, prevents a state from ‘prohibiting the free exercise’ of religion.”

The 14th Amendment also guarantees equal protection under the law.

Western Michigan University has no vaccination mandate for the student body as a whole.

However, its athletes are still required to wear masks at practice and be regularly tested for the virus. Those policies were not addressed in the athletes’ complaint.

University officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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California Professor Suspended After Suing University Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

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A professor at the University of California–Irvine (UC Irvine) said he has been suspended after challenging the university system’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for people with natural immunity.

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a professor of psychiatry and director of UC Irvine’s medical ethics program, brought the lawsuit against the University of California (UC) system in August. He said he has recovered from COVID-19 and developed durable immunity to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus that causes it, alleging that the university’s vaccination policy isn’t only unfair to him and other people with natural immunity, but is also a violation of their 14th Amendment rights.

The vaccine policy was upheld by a federal judge, who ruled in September that the UC system “acted rationally to protect public health by mandating the vaccine and not exempting individuals with some level of immunity from an infection.”

In the latest update through his personal newsletter, Kheriaty said UC Irvine hasn’t only placed him on “investigatory leave” for not complying with the vaccination requirement, but has also banned him from working on campus or from home.

“While on investigatory leave, you are not to perform any work for the university,” a notice from the university reads. “You are not to be present on the premises at the UC Irvine campus in Irvine, California, nor on any clinical space owned or operated by the University of California, Irvine.”

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A significant portion of Kheriaty’s income involves working at the university clinics, whose terms of employment prevent him from starting a private practice.

“You might be thinking, a month of paid leave doesn’t sound so bad. But the language is misleading,” he said. “Furthermore, my contract stipulates that I am not able to conduct any patient care outside the University: To see my current patients, or to recoup my losses by moonlighting as a physician elsewhere, would violate the terms of my contract.”

Kheriaty said he wasn’t surprised that the university would immediately start procedures to fire him after the court victory, but didn’t expect to be unable to work at the university nor permitted to pursue work elsewhere. He described it as an effort to force him to resign to nullify his lawsuit.

The professor said he has no intention of resigning or withdrawing the lawsuit, warning that it’s a crucial moment when people must resist the institutions’ attempts to “set dangerous and unjust precedents.”

“Today’s precedents could later facilitate even more coercive mandates and infringements on civil liberties by unelected officials, done during a declared ‘state of exception’ or emergency that has no defined terminus—a dangerous precedent for a democratic society,” Kheriaty said.

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Colorado Hospital Refuses Kidney Transplant to Woman Over COVID-19 Vaccine Refusal

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A hospital in Colorado rejected a woman for a kidney transplant after she refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine, officials have confirmed.

Leilani Lutali received a letter on Sept. 28 informing her that the transplant team at the University of Colorado Hospital decided to designate her inactive on the waiting list for transplants.

“You will be inactivated on the list for non-compliance by not receiving the COVID vaccine,” the letter states.

If Lutali continues to refuse to get a vaccine, she “will be removed from the kidney transplant list,” it added.

Neither Lutali nor her designated donor, Jaimee Fougner, have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Fougner hasn’t for religious reasons, while Lutali believes there isn’t enough known about the vaccines, they told KCNC-TV.


According to Lutali, hospital officials previously said vaccination wasn’t required to get a transplant.

“Here I am, willing to be a direct donor to her. It does not affect any other patient on the transplant list,” said Fougner. “How can I sit here and allow them to murder my friend when I’ve got a perfectly good kidney and can save her life?”


The hospital didn’t respond to a request for comment. It told news outlets in a statement that there are many requirements in place at transplant centers, such as requiring patients to avoid alcohol.

“In almost all situations, transplant recipients and living donors at UCHealth are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to meeting other health requirements and receiving additional vaccinations. Some U.S. transplant centers already have this requirement in place, and others are making this change in policy now,” the hospital stated.

State Rep. Tim Geitner, a Republican who first drew awareness to the situation, said in a Facebook Live video that he spoke with Lutali and that she has tested positive for antibodies against the CCP virus, which causes COVID-19, but the hospital refuses to make an exception.

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“That’s demonstrated through documentation. And still UCHealth is refusing to render this type of care, this type of life-saving care—this isn’t even just typical care, this is life-saving care. And that’s incredibly frustrating, incredibly sad, incredibly disgusting, that UCHealth would make this type of a decision and impact an individual in such a dramatic and profound way,” he told followers.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a nonprofit that manages the U.S. organ transplantation system, such policies are not unique, but aren’t mandated for transplant facilities.

“Each transplant hospital makes its own decisions about listing candidates according to the hospital’s best clinical judgment, including whether or not any specific vaccination is part of their eligibility criteria. If you have questions about listing criteria at your transplant hospital, we encourage you to contact the hospital directly,” the network states on its website.

At least one other hospital reportedly rejected prospective transplant recipients over a refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Sam Allen was told earlier this year by University of Washington Medicine that his heart transplant surgery couldn’t be completed unless he got vaccinated.

“The cardiologist called me and we had a discussion, and he informed me that, ‘Well, you’re going to have to get a vaccination to get a transplant.’ And I said: ‘Well that’s news to me. And nobody’s ever told me that before.’ And he says, ‘Yeah, that’s our policy,’” Allen told KTTH radio.

The university states on its website that people must be fully vaccinated before undergoing a solid organ transplant “unless you have a specific medical exception that prevents you from getting the vaccine.”

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