Federal appeals court greenlights vax mandate for NY’s healthcare workers – McKnight’s Long Term Care News

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A three-member panel in Manhattan has reversed a lower court’s ruling and shrugged off protests over a lack of religious exemptions, paving the way for the state of New York to mandate its healthcare workers get a COVID-19 vaccine.

An attorney for the plaintiffs vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court, but that body, also on Friday, rejected arguments in a similar case based in Maine.

An upstate New York judge had temporarily blocked the state’s vaccination requirements over objections that it did not accommodate religious exemptions. Judges in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, however, agreed with the case’s original Brooklyn judge who ruled in favor of the mandate.

Plaintiffs attorney Cameron Lee Atkinson argued, “New York’s mandate forces an abominable choice on New York healthcare workers: abandon their faith or lose their careers.”

He and his three clients, all nurses who refuse to get vaccinated, “remain optimistic that the United States Supreme Court will strike down New York’s discriminatory mandate as violating the First Amendment.”

In August, the state announced that nursing home and hospital workers needed to get at least their first COVID-19 shot by Sept. 27. That was eventually expanded to include assisted living, home care, hospice and other workers.