Posts Misrepresent Ruling on COVID-19 School Mandate Lawsuit

18.06.2024, 23:10, Разное
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SciCheck Digest

A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District for its now-rescinded COVID-19 vaccine requirement. The court said the case should be allowed to develop beyond the preliminary arguments. But anti-vaccination activists have twisted the opinion to falsely claim the court had “declared that the mRNA covid jab is NOT a vaccine.”

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The Los Angeles Unified School District was among the employers that mandated COVID-19 vaccination in 2021, and then faced lawsuits over its requirement.

The first suit, filed on March 17, 2021, was brought by employees who didn’t want to get vaccinated. It was dismissed four months later because the school district had amended its policy to allow workers to instead submit to regular testing. (The district later reinstituted the vaccine requirement without the testing option, and then did away with the mandate altogether in September.)

A second suit was brought in November 2021 on behalf of the district employees by an Idaho-based nonprofit that started in 2020 and has pursued several lawsuits directed at public health measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, including mask and vaccine mandates.

The nonprofit organization, called the Health Freedom Defense Fund, argued that COVID-19 vaccines are not actually vaccines, but are instead “medical treatments,” and cannot be mandated. The group argued that the COVID-19 vaccines don’t prevent transmission of the disease, but rather just reduce its severity in those who are infected – making “the injection … a treatment, not a vaccine.”

As we’ve explained before, since the virus changes as it spreads, the vaccines have become less effective in providing protection against symptomatic illness, but it is effective in preventing severe disease and death from COVID-19.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in February found that, for adults, the most recent formulation of the vaccines provided 54% increased protection against symptomatic infection. Experts say that those vaccines should also be effective in preventing severe disease and death from the most common variants circulating since 2023.

Although the legal fight against the LA school district has been going on for about three years, it’s still in a relatively early legal stage, since both cases have been dismissed by trial courts. The Health Freedom Defense Fund suit was dismissed for several reasons in 2022, most importantly because the court found that the vaccine’s ability to reduce the severity of disease and death from COVID-19 met the district’s interest in protecting the health of students and employees.

However, on June 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed that dismissal and sent the case back to the trial court to flesh out the arguments on both sides.

But conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccination influencers on social media have misrepresented the opinion from the appeals court to falsely claim that it had “declared that the mRNA covid jab is NOT a vaccine.”

The court did no such thing.

Rather, the three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the lower court was wrong to dismiss the case and that the school district’s “pattern of withdrawing and then reinstating its vaccination policies was enough to keep this case alive.”

As we said, the case is still in the early stages and neither side has presented much beyond their initial arguments. The appeals court wrote, “At this stage, we must accept Plaintiffs’ allegations that the vaccine does not prevent the spread of COVID-19 as true.” Letting the case continue will allow for each side to present evidence to support their arguments about the effectiveness of the vaccines.

“We note the preliminary nature of our holding,” the court said. “We do not prejudge whether, on a more developed factual record, Plaintiffs’ allegations will prove true.”

So, the court found that the case should continue. It has not “declared” whether or not the COVID-19 vaccines are actually vaccines.

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