A federal judge decided Tuesday that New York State health officials must allow employers to aOrder religious exemptions to a Covid-19 vaccine warrant for healthcare workers as a lawsuit challenging the warrant makes its way through the courts.
The judge's order at least temporarily thwarts Governor Kathy M. Hochul's efforts to demand immediate vaccination of health workers even if they have religious objections . And it offers reprieve for thousands of unvaccinated doctors, nurses and support workers who would have been barred from working from Tuesday if the judge had ruled for the state.
An attorney for a group of healthcare workers suing the state for the warrant praised the decision.
" With this decision, the court rightly recognized thatThe 'frontline heroes in the face of Covid cannot suddenly be treated as villainous disease carriers and thrown to the curb by the command of a state health bureaucracy,' said Christopher Ferrara du Thomas More Society .
Ms. Hochul, in a statement, said that the State would appeal.
"My responsibility as governor is to protect the people of this state, and to demand that health care workers get vaccinated is doing this ”Ms. Hochul said. “I support this mandate and I will challenge this decision in court. to keep New Yorkers safe.
Former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued the state 's first vaccine warrant forr health workers in mid-August; it allowed religious exemptions.
But when Ms Hochul 's administration issued its own mandate later in the month - to take effect this fall - she rolled back the exemptions. This prompted 17 healthcare workers to sue the state in federal court on the grounds that the warrant conflicted with their religious beliefs .
Between the two orders of governors, thousands of healthcare workers across the state had requested or received a religious exemption.
In its decision of 27 pages, Judge David N. Hurd of the Northern District of Utica wrote that New York appeared to be going too far in banning all religious accommodations in the warrant. He issued a preliminary injunction to emfishing the Department of Health to take action against any employer that grants religious exemptions, and wrote that 17 healthcare workers were likely to be successful in their case.
“ The Department of Health is prohibited from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions from Covid-19 vaccination in the future, or with the how exemptions already granted work, ”Judge Hurd wrote.
What you need to know about Covid-19 booster injections
FDA clears booster shots for a selected group of people who have received their second dose of Pfizer vaccine -BioNTech at least six months ago. This group includes: Pfizer beneficiaries whoare 65 years of age or older or living in long-term care facilities; adults who are at high risk for severe Covid-19 due to an underlying medical problem; healthcare workers and others whose jobs put them at risk. People with weakened may receive a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna four weeks after the second injection.
Regulators have not yet authorized booster injections for Moderna vaccine recipients and Johnson & Johnson, but a FDA panel Is scheduled to meet to weigh the booster shots for adults ayanI haven't received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The CDC has said that conditions that qualify a person for a booster shot include: high blood pressure and heart disease; diabetes or obesity; cancer or blood disorders; weakened immune system; chronic lung, kidney or liver disease; dementia and some disabilities. Pregnant women and current and former smokers are also eligible.
The FDA approved boosters for workers whose work puts them at high risk of exposure to potentially infectious people. The C.D.C. says this group includes: emergency medical workers; education workers; food and agricultural workers; manufacturing workers; correctional workers; US Postal Service Employees; public transport workers; employees of grocery stores.
This is not recommended. For now, it is advisablerecipients of Pfizer vaccines to receive a Pfizer booster, and recipients of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson must wait until the booster doses from these manufacturers are approved.
Yes. The C.D.C. says the Covid vaccine can be given regardless of the timing of other vaccines, and many pharmacy websites allow people to schedule a flu shot along with a booster dose.
The judge previously issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing the warrant against people with religious objections from mid-September; technically, Tuesday's order extended that decision. The injunction allowed many health workers who requested religious exemptions in New York to continue working even after the term took effect.
In the federal case, entitled Dr. A et al c. Hochul, lThe 17 healthcare workers argued that they could not consent to be inoculated with vaccines "that have been tested, developed or produced with fetal cell lines derived from obtained abortions." -19 vaccines; most of the healthcare workers suing in this case are Catholics. But Judge Hurd did not ask if the health workers were right in their religious objections. Instead, he focused on their broader constitutional right to have their religious beliefs taken into account and, where possible, taken into account.
In his ruling, Judge Hurd considered how terms of office differ from governor to governor. "This intentional change in language is the kind of " religious gerrymander "that triggers close scrutiny, " the judge wrote.