UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — A federal judge has temporarily blocked the state of New York from forcing medical workers to be vaccinated after a group of health care workers sued, saying their Constitutional rights were violated.
Judge David Hurd in Utica issued the order Tuesday after 17 health professionals, including doctors and nurses, anonymously claimed that their rights were violated with a vaccine mandate that disallowed religious exemptions.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say they are Christians who also oppose the use of the COVID-19 vaccine that may be connected to a line of fetal cell tissue. Additionally Catholic Church leaders have previously mentioned that the development of COVID-19 vaccine is “morally acceptable”
Melanie Franco, an Associate Attorney at Tully Rinckey says it is very specific when it comes to applying for religious exemptions.
“It can’t just be some sort of philosophical or moral objection. There has to be some sincere religious belief. So it means if you have genuine concerns, you should do your own research to figure out if you have a valid argument,” said Franco.
The plaintiffs say they are not anti-vaxxers, but shouldn’t be forced to be vaccinated against their will.
“Plaintiffs can truly demonstrate that their religious beliefs are being violated and that their being prevented from freely practicing,” said Franco.
The plaintiffs did not want to reveal their identity in the lawsuit because of fears of loosing their jobs or receiving public backlash.
The judge gave New York state until September 22 to respond to the lawsuit in federal court in Utica. The state issued the order August 28, requiring at least a first shot for health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes by September 27.
Reached for comment, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s press secretary, Hazel Crampton-Hays, said:
“Governor Hochul is doing everything in her power to protect New Yorkers and combat the Delta variant by increasing vaccine rates across the State. Requiring vaccination of health care workers is critical to this battle. This 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. We are considering all of our legal options to keep our communities safe.”