Posts falsely claim that an appeals court ruled that COVID-19 vaccines aren’t vaccines

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal of a lawsuit against the state of California over the now-expired COVID-19 vaccine mandates for Los Angeles school employees. The ruling allows the case to move forward, a year after a lower district court dismissed the suit because a previous Supreme Court decision set the legal precedent for vaccine mandates to prevent disease spread. Prominent COVID-19 vaccine opponents, including a U.S. senator, are falsely claiming that the court ruled that COVID-19 vaccines are not really vaccines, that the mandate was unconstitutional, and that mRNA vaccines have been stripped of legal liability protection.

Recommendation: While conversations about this ruling are unlikely to arise in a clinical setting, doctors may face questions about the classification and safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Debunking talking points may emphasize that the court did not make any ruling related to the effectiveness or medical classification of COVID-19 vaccines or the legality of the vaccine mandate. The false narrative that COVID-19 vaccines don’t meet the medical definition of vaccines is part of the plaintiffs’ legal argument against the mandate. It is not part of the appeals court decision, which was about the validity of the district court’s dismissal of the case. The appeals court ruled that the lower court applied the wrong legal standard to the case and is now allowing the lawsuit to proceed under an appropriate standard. mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and determined to be safe, as adverse effects are extremely rare. The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for everyone 6 months and older.