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Health care workers exempt from vaccine mandate, for now: Judges

Following the actions of two federal judges, U.S. health care workers will not have to abide by a federal rule requiring they be vaccinated against COVID-19, pending further court action.

On Nov. 29, Judge Matthew T. Schelp of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri delivered a preliminary injunction against the mandate for 10 states that are plaintiffs in Missouri et al v. Biden. This suit would invalidate the mandate, effected by a CMS rule published on Nov. 5, that requires millions of U.S. health care workers be at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 5 (PBN 11/22/21). 
Plaintiffs charge that the mandate is “unconstitutional” and “threatens to exacerbate an alarming shortage of healthcare workers, particularly in rural communities” of the sort that predominate in the 10 plaintiff states: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. 

“Whatever might make sense in New York City, St. Louis, or Omaha could be decidedly counterproductive and harmful in rural communities like Memphis, Missouri or McCook, Nebraska,” the suit further states.

The judge agreed with the plaintiffs’ claims and questioned the efficacy of the mandate in combating COVID-19, saying “the public would suffer little, if any, harm from maintaining the ‘status quo’ through the litigation of this case.” Finding Missouri’s case likely to succeed on the merits, Schelp issued a temporary injunction pending further court action.

The next day, Judge Terry A. Doughty of the U.S. District Court for Western Louisiana, hearing plaintiffs from 14 states in a similar suit, Lousiana et alia v. Becerra, decided that “due to the nationwide scope of the CMS Mandate, a nationwide injunction is necessary due to the need for uniformity,” and made the injunction national

Doughty found the plaintiffs in Louisiana likely to prevail on grounds similar to those cited in Missouri, and went further, declaring “it is not clear that even an Act of Congress mandating a vaccine would be constitutional.”  He also questioned the need for widespread COVID-19 vaccination: "The rejection of natural immunity as an alternative [to vaccination] is puzzling," Doughty wrote, "... If boosters are needed six months after being ‘fully vaccinated,’ then how good are the COVID-19 vaccines, and why is it necessary to mandate them?”
Both cases are still in progress; follow Part B News for further developments.
Blog Tags: COVID-19
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