A federal appeals court overturned a temporary injunction on Friday that could have health care workers in New York state request a religious exemption to avoid getting COVID-19 vaccines.
Three judges from the Second Circuit of the US Court of Appeals have endorsed New York state’s requirement that all health care workers receive a COVID-19 vaccine regardless of religious beliefs or face termination.
Governor Cathy Hochhol is consistent in ruling.
“On the first day, I pledged as governor to fight this pandemic and take bold action to protect the health of all New Yorkers,” Hochhol said in a statement.
“I commend the results of the Second District confirming the mandate of the first vaccine in the state, and I will continue to do everything in my power to keep New Yorkers safe.”
The New York State Department of Health then Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in August a requirement that all state health care employees must receive at least their first dose of vaccines by September 27. The Ministry of Health considered religious exemptions before allowing only medical exemptions.
A religious freedom lawsuit to challenge the mandate was filed in September against Hochhol, Attorney General Letitia James and the Department of Health by 17 unidentified health care workers, the majority of whom are Catholic.
A district judge granted the plaintiffs’ request to suspend the vaccination authorization, and issued a preliminary injunction on October 13. The ruling of the Court of Appeal reversed this decision.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs plan to appeal to the US Supreme Court, which denied a similar injunction in Maine on Friday.
“The New York mandate imposes an abhorrent choice on New York health care workers: give up their faith or lose their careers,” attorney Cameron Lee Atkinson said.
“They have committed their future to God’s hands, and we remain optimistic that the United States Supreme Court will overturn New York’s discriminatory mandate as a violation of the First Amendment.”
As of October 27, 93 percent of the state’s 450,000 hospital workers had received full vaccination shots, According to the data of the Ministry of Health.
About 97 percent of state employees in skilled nursing facilities have been vaccinated and 97 percent of adult care facility employees have been vaccinated as of October 29, the Department of Health reports.