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Federal lawsuit takes aim at Oregon governor's vaccine mandate

By Jake Thomas
Federal lawsuit takes aim at Oregon governor's vaccine mandate
Government officials have been pushing workers to get COIVD-19 vaccines such as the Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech. On Friday, a group of workers sued Oregon Gov. Kate Brown over her mandate.  Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Six Oregon workers argue in a federal lawsuit filed Friday that they should be exempt from the state's COVID-19 vaccination requirements because they have natural immunity after they became sick with the virus.

Filed by the conservative advocacy group Freedom Foundation in the U.S. District Court in Eugene, the lawsuit takes aim at rules adopted by Gov. Kate Brown last month requiring state workers to get the jab.

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The lawsuit argues the requirement violates the workers' constitutional rights while depriving them of "their ability to refuse unwanted medical care in violation of their constitutional right to privacy, bodily autonomy, and personal liberty."

"The Governor's orders fail to take into account natural immunity which current studies show to be just as - if not more - effective than any vaccine." Oregon Director of the Freedom Foundation Jason Dudash, said in a statement. "These mandates are about control and not based in any science, which is consistent with what we've seen come out of the Governor's mansion this past year, as well as the White House."

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The workers behind the lawsuit come from a range of jobs and parts of the state. They include two state Department of Corrections workers, an emergency medical technician, an officer manager, a bus driver and a state Department of Justice investigator.

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The lawsuit comes as more government officials are turning to sticks, rather than carrots, to push people to get vaccinated amid a surge of the virus' Delta variant. Notably, President Joe Biden rolled out plans last week to require workers at larger private companies to get vaccinated along with federal employees and contractors.

Brown's office declined comment to the Oregonian/OregonLive.com. The paper cited a CDC study showing that people can be reinfected COVID-19. It also mentioned Jacobson v. Massachusetts, a 1905 U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld the city of Cambridge's smallpox vaccination requirement.

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Dudash told the paper that the court gave Henning Jacobson, the case's plaintiff, the option of paying a $5 fine. He said the lawsuit was seeking a carve out for the workers.

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