HomeHealth Care NewsCDC's New Guidance Boosts Legal Challenges to Mandates

CDC’s New Guidance Boosts Legal Challenges to Mandates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recognizes the existence of natural immunity to COVID-19, undermining a key argument for vaccine mandates, says Mark Chenoweth, president and general counsel at the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA).

“So long as federal guidance backed these mandates, other public entities could argue to a court that they had a rational basis for following federal guidance—even if the federal science was flawed,” said Chenoweth. “But that rational basis argument will no longer be available to them.”

The CDC’s new guidance on protection against COVID-19, released on August 11, no longer states shots are the best and only way to keep people safe.

“CDC’s COVID-19 prevention recommendations no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status because breakthrough infections occur, though they are generally mild, and persons who have had COVID-19 but are not vaccinated have some degree of protection against severe illness from their previous infection,” states the agency’s website.

‘Science Was Flawed’

Despite the new guidance, schools like New York University and companies like Google still require vaccinations for employees and students as a condition of entering facilities or for employment.

The CDC guidance will help individuals suing organizations that impose mandates, says Chenoweth.

“This will make lawsuits easier and possibly more plentiful against entities that insist on continuing with vaccine mandates,” said Chenoweth. “We are following several situations and looking for the best opportunity to file a lawsuit against such an employer or school—and against the officials responsible for the mandate.”

Legal Actions Taken

When institutions first imposed COVID-19 shots, many denied medical or religious exemptions but legal action has required them to modify their mandates.

For example, a federal judge in Ohio blocked the Air Force, Space Force, and Air National Guard from denying a religious exemption to their mandate, on July 27.

The first settlement in a class-action lawsuit was reached when NorthShore University Health System in Illinois agreed to pay $10.3 million to settle worker claims for unlawfully denying religious exemptions to a policy that required COVID-19 shots as a condition of employment, on August 1.

The NorthShore settlement will not directly affect other cases involving the denial of religious exemptions working their way through the courts, says Doug Seaton, an attorney at the Upper Midwest Law Center, who is representing employees in a similar case and discussed the issue on The Heartland Daily Podcast on August 11.

“We would like to get some ringing appellate court decisions that are citable precedent for other cases,” said Seaton.

AnneMarie Schieber (amschieber@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Health Care News.


This article was updated on August 31, 2022.


AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News, Heartland's monthly newspaper for health care reform.


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