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St John’s University students sue the school over vaccine requirements on religious concerns

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Story at a glance:

  • Students at St. John’s University are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Nearly 20 plaintiffs, seeking $2.75 million in damages, say that because they are against abortion and the shots were tested using “aborted fetal tissue or human embryonic stem-cell derivation” they shouldn’t have to get the jabs.
  • A judge denied the plaintiffs’ request for an emergency injunction.

One of New York’s most prominent Catholic colleges is getting sued by some of its students who are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 — they say in violation of their religious beliefs.

St. John’s University is a defendant in a heated court case at the Supreme Court in Suffolk County, Long Island, over its vaccine mandate, The New York Post reported. 


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At least 98 percent of its 20,000 students across the school’s four locations are required to be at least partially vaccinated.

The school has four campus locations in Manhattan, Queens (main campus), Staten Island and Hauppauge, Long Island. 

There are 17 plaintiffs seeking $2.75 million in damages, saying that because they are against abortion and the shots were tested using “aborted fetal tissue or human embryonic stem-cell derivation,” they want to disassociate themselves from the vaccine. 

“As a devout Roman Catholic, I believe life is precious. In the Ten Commandments, it says,`Thou Shall Not Kill,’” second-year pharmacy student and anti-abortion plaintiff Kimberly Vineski told the NY Post.

However, the Catholic school said it is not going to make exemptions for plaintiffs due to questions about “the genuineness of their purported religious beliefs.”

New York radio station 1010 WINS reported that the Catholic Church has shown support for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops saying, “While neither vaccine is completely free from any use of abortion-derived cell lines, in these two cases the use is very remote from the initial evil of the abortion.”

As of now, a judge denied the plaintiffs’ request for an emergency injunction, giving St. John’s the advantage and making the mandate still intact. 

“St. John’s University is confident our COVID-19 vaccination requirement, announced last April, will withstand this legal challenge,” school spokesman Brian Browne told the Post. “Courts have consistently upheld student vaccination requirements as necessary to promote health and safety.

“At St. John’s, we encourage all students and employees to get vaccinated as a matter of public health and to adhere to our policies. The St. John’s family has come together throughout this ongoing pandemic and adherence to campus safety protocols, and a shared spirit of compliance and cooperation is evident.” 


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