Religious workers in NY hospitals, nursing homes get vax mandate reprieve

A federal judge on Tuesday granted workers in New York’s hospitals and nursing homes a reprieve from mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations based on their “sincere religious beliefs.”

The temporary restraining order issued by Utica federal Judge David Hurd came in response to a religious-freedom suit filed Monday by 17 healthcare workers, almost all of them Catholic, who said they opposed the available vaccines because they “employ aborted fetus cell lines in their testing, development, or production.”

“The vaccine mandate is suspended in operation to the extent that the [Department of Health] is barred from enforcing any requirement that employers deny religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccinations or that they revoke any exemptions already granted before the vaccine mandate issued,” Hurd wrote.

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Hurd also gave state officials including Health Commissioner Howard Zucker until Sept. 22 to challenge the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction pending the expedited outcome of the case and their request to “proceed pseudonymously.”

The workers filed the suit using names including “Dr. A” and “Nurse A.” and claimed in it that they would otherwise be be “vilified…as pariahs” by the news media.

In January, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

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said that “it can be morally acceptable to receive a vaccine that uses abortion-derived cell lines if there are no other available vaccines comparable in safety and efficacy with no connection to abortion.”

Pope Francis also said last month, “Getting the vaccines that are authorized by the respective authorities is an act of love.”

The DOH has said that it  “does not comment on pending litigation.”

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