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Vaccination warrants: Judge temporarily blocks New York state from requiring COVID vaccines for healthcare workers

UTICA, NY – A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily barred New York state from requiring medical workers to get vaccinated after a group of healthcare workers sued, claiming their constitutional rights had been violated because the state mandate prohibited religious exemptions.

Utica Judge David Hurd issued the order after 17 medical professionals, including doctors and nurses, claimed in a lawsuit Monday that their rights had been violated with a vaccination warrant that banned exemptions.

The judge gave New York State until September 22 to respond to the trial in federal court in Utica. If the state objects to the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary court order blocking the vaccine’s mandate, an oral hearing on September 28 will be held.

The state issued the order on August 28, requiring at least a first injection for healthcare workers in hospitals and nursing homes by September 27.

Hazel Crampton-Hays, press secretary to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, said in a statement that the state is considering all legal options.

“Governor Hochul is doing everything in her power to protect New Yorkers and combat the Delta variant by increasing vaccination rates statewide. Requiring vaccination of healthcare workers is essential in this battle,” Crampton-Hays said.

Messages seeking comment were also sent to Thomas More Society attorneys who filed the complaint.

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Dr. Joseph R. Sellers, president of the State Medical Society of New York, said in a statement that the non-profit organization for physicians, residents and medical students was “greatly appalled by the today’s decision ”.

“We believe this step will result in a flurry of attempts to circumvent the well-reasoned vaccination requirement which was an important step towards reversing the recent wave attributable to the more easily spread Delta variant,” Sellers said. “No major religious denomination opposes vaccinations, and the Supreme Court has for over 100 years upheld vaccination requirements as a way to protect public health.”

In their lawsuit, the medical professionals disguised their identities under pseudonyms such as “Dr. A.”, “Nurse A.” and “Physician Liaison X”.

They cited violations of the U.S. Constitution, as well as New York State Human Rights Act and New York City Human Rights Act, as the regulations of the state health ministry requiring workers to be vaccinated did not provide any exemptions for “sincere religious beliefs which compel the refusal of such vaccination.”

Court documents said all available vaccines use aborted fetal cell lines in their testing, development or production. But religious leaders disagreed on the issue and the Vatican issued a statement last year saying the vaccines were “morally acceptable”.

The lawsuit said the plaintiffs wanted to proceed anonymously because they “run the risk of ostracism, threats of harm, immediate dismissal and other consequences of retaliation if their names are known.”

The plaintiffs, all Christians, included practicing doctors, nurses, a nuclear medicine technologist, a cognitive rehabilitation therapist and a liaison doctor who all religiously oppose any medical cooperation on abortion, according to the trial.

He added that they are not “anti-vaccines” that oppose all vaccines.

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