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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.”


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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