New York's attempt to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers has become a flashpoint in a nationwide debate over whether government officials should require the jabs to combat coronavirus outbreaks.
In New York, continuing employment in health-related professions requires COVID vaccination.
This was following former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's mandate on August 16,2021 that all health care workers in the state, "including staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, adult care facilities, and other congregate care settings," be vaccinated against COVID-19 as per Charisma's report.
Consequently, healthcare workers are now engaged in a legal battle with the state. On Monday, 17 Catholic and Baptist healthcare professionals reportedly filed a lawsuit against state authorities.
"What New York is attempting to do is slam shut an escape hatch from an unconstitutional vaccine mandate," attorney Christopher Ferrara, special counsel for the Thomas More Society, said. "And they are doing this while, knowing that many people have sincere religious objections to vaccines that were tested, developed, or produced with cell lines derived from aborted children."
Hence, an injunction was sought against the vaccine mandate's suppression of accommodating genuine religious convictions.
"This is just another example of how COVID regimes are completely out of control. The federal judiciary has a duty under the Constitution to put a straitjacket on this institutional insanity," said Ferrara.
This Tuesday, as per a report from Observer Dispatch, a federal court blocked New York from implementing its "medical worker vaccine mandate," citing a complaint arguing that the elimination of a religious exception was "unconstitutional."
The lawsuit asserted breaches of the United States Constitution, as well as New York State and City Human Rights Laws, since the state Department of Health rule mandating employees to get the vaccine made no provision for "sincere religious beliefs that compel the refusal of such vaccination."
The lawsuit noted that the plaintiffs want anonymity because they risk "ostracization, threats of harm, immediate firing and other retaliatory consequences" if their identities are revealed.
It also made it clear that the plaintiffs are not "anti-vaxxers," or activists who oppose all vaccinations.
The plaintiffs are Christians who happen to be practicing physicians, nurses, medical technicians, therapists, or liaisons.
The injunction was subsequently granted by U.S. Northern District Justice David Hurd in Utica. A court hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 28. The judge has given state authorities until Sept. 22 to respond to the complaint.
Hazel Crampton-Hays, Governor Hochul's press secretary, said in a statement Tuesday that the "order does not suspend the vaccine mandate, but it temporarily bars the Department of Health from enforcing the mandate where individuals have claims for religious exemption."
Crampton-Hays said that the governor "is doing everything in her power to protect New Yorkers and combat the delta variant by increasing vaccine rates across the state," and that the government is exploring all "legal options to keep our communities safe."
More objections to the mandate
Hundreds of anti-vaccine protesters gathered Monday outside Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, requiring an increased police presence to ensure the safety of patients and employees, the Observer Dispatch reported.
Protest against COVID mandates have also reportedly lined Hudson Valley and Southern Tier major roadways and hospital doorways.
Hospitals and nursing facilities across New York warned that some of the approximately 20%, or over 130,000, of their total staff refusing COVID-19 vaccinations may quit or be fired, escalating already-existing labor shortages. For example, a small Lewis County hospital recently ceased delivery of newborns after staff members resigned in protest of the mandate.
Back on August 24, 2021, a healthcare worker was seen carrying a placard that reads, "honk for medical freedom" during a demonstration against the New York State vaccine mandate on Route 211 in the Town of Wallkill, NY.
Local health officials are reportedly drafting contingency plans in case unvaccinated employees continue to reject vaccinations by the end of the month.
According to Bea Grause, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State, "worst-case scenarios" include cutting operating room services in order to staff emergency rooms as well as temporarily shutting key hospital sections like "labor and delivery."
"If you are looking at - particularly for small and community hospitals - some loss of even two dozen nurses, that can devastate a unit," Grause added.