A federal judge in New York handed down a preliminary injunction against the state’s vaccine mandate Tuesday. Health care workers will be allowed to continue to get religious exemptions from the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Seventeen unidentified health care workers sued the state over the mandate. With U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd‘s decision today, the state must continue to allow religious exemptions until a final order is issued or the injunction is appealed.
“There is no adequate explanation from defendants about why the ‘reasonable accommodation’ that must be extended to a medically exempt health care worker under 2.61 could not similarly be extended to a healthcare worker with a sincere religious objection,” the judge wrote in his decision.
The mandate requires all nursing home, hospital, and other health care workers to get the shot or be out of a job. Prior to the injunction, it allowed for medical exemptions only. However, the original draft of the mandate allowed for religious exemptions as well. It was eliminated in a revised draft issued on August 26 by the state Public Health and Health Planning Council.
In the lawsuit, the 17 health care workers claimed that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines “were tested, developed or produced with fetal cell lines derived from procured abortions.” Receiving the shot would violate their religious beliefs.
The state argued that allowing a religious exemption would undermine the effort to keep the public safe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.