vaccine mandate

US Supreme Court Rejects NY Health Workers' COVID Vaccine Mandate Case; 3 Dissent

The same three justices who dissented with a December decision not to grant an emergency injunction against the vaccine mandate disagreed with the majority again on Thursday, saying the case should've been heard

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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to take up a legal challenge New York healthcare workers brought against the state's vaccine mandate on religious grounds.

The high court released its decision on Thursday as the term inched toward its close. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, all part of the conservative majority, had said the Supreme Court should have taken up the case this fall.

Those three justices also dissented with an earlier decision in December in which the justices declined to grant an emergency injunction against Gov. Kathy Hochul's order. At the time, doctors, nurses and other medical workers were claiming the COVID shot mandate forced them to choose between their jobs and religious beliefs.

New York is one of three states, along with Maine and Rhode Island, that do not accommodate healthcare workers who object to COVID vaccines on religious grounds. The court previously turned away healthcare workers in Maine who filed a similar challenge. The same three justices were in dissent in that case as well.

Hochul’s administration began requiring workers at hospitals and nursing homes to be vaccinated on Sept. 27 and later that year expanded the requirement to include workers at assisted living homes, hospice care, treatment centers and home health aides.

The Democrat argued it was her responsibility as governor to protect New Yorkers, which she said included requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, all Christians, said they opposed as a matter of religious conviction any medical cooperation in abortion, including the use of vaccines linked to fetal cell lines in testing, development or production, according to court papers.

Several types of cell lines created decades ago using fetal tissue exist and are widely used in medical manufacturing, but the cells in them today are clones of the early cells, not the original tissue.

New York state had also announced a booster shot mandate for healthcare workers in January as the omicron wave fueled COVID hospital admissions and soaring infection rate increases. State officials later opted not to enforce the order as they faced severe staffing shortages and other concerns associated with the January surge.

About 250,000 home health aides across the state of New York are required to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Friday. NBC New York's Checkey Beckford reports.
Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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