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Scripps Ranch High student asks appeals court for injunction against vaccine mandate

Scripps Ranch High School
Mike Damron
Students exiting Scripps Ranch High School on Oct. 26, 2021.

A 16-year-old Scripps Ranch High School student and her parents who sued to block the San Diego Unified School District's COVID-19 vaccine mandate are asking an appeals court to issue an injunction blocking the requirement by next Monday when students will need to have taken their first vaccine dose.

The suit filed last month in San Diego federal court on behalf of the family — identified as John, Jane and Jill Doe in the complaint — stated that the high school junior's religious beliefs — specifically her opposition to abortion — prohibit her from getting the vaccine.

The district's plan requires that all students over age 16 receive their second dose no later than Dec. 20. According to Doe's filings, that means students' first dose must be received by Nov. 29 in order to be considered fully vaccinated by Dec. 20.


Unvaccinated students 16 years or older will be required to take part in remote learning via independent study. The district's plan allows for medical exemptions to the mandate, but not religious or personal belief exemptions.

Paul Jonna, an attorney representing the family said his clients are opposed to taking the vaccines "because they were all either made or tested using aborted fetal cells."

Jonna said, "Our clients are firmly pro-life and refuse to benefit from vaccines that were made in this way, which they view as immoral — as do many other people of faith."

None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain aborted fetal cells, though fetal cell lines grown in laboratories were used during the testing and development of the mRNA vaccines. Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses fetal cell lines during the production process.

The family's request for a temporary restraining order was denied last week by U.S. District Judge Cathy Bencivengo, who ruled that the district's policy will not require Doe to take the vaccine, but rather precludes her from attending in-person classes or participate in extracurricular activities.


Doe's attorneys said the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to consider an emergency injunction request and has given SDUSD until Tuesday to respond to the complaint.

The suit follows one filed earlier this year by local parents group Let Them Choose, which alleges the district lacks the authority to implement a vaccine mandate. The group says the mandate is "unnecessary, unlawful, violates students' right to in-person education and discriminates between persons."