2021-09-30 14:34:15 Here’s a rundown of the legal challenges to New York’s vaccine mandate.

Here’s a rundown of the legal challenges to New York’s vaccine mandate.

The state of New York mandated that more than 650,000 hospital and nursing home workers be vaccinated against Covid-19 this week, prompting tens of thousands of holdouts to receive their first dose. However, the mandate has prompted lawsuits across the state from nurses and others seeking exemptions.

Judges from Manhattan to Utica are debating whether to carve out exemptions for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of health care workers. If they do, hospitals and nursing homes may become more vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks, according to health care officials.

Alternatively, if the mandate is upheld and providers fire a significant number of unvaccinated workers, some institutions may face staff shortages — though industry officials say that most appear to be able to handle limited job losses so far.

Several lawsuits have been filed accusing New York of violating religious freedoms. These have mostly been filed on behalf of Christian health care workers who claim that their faith-based opposition to abortion requires them to refrain from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. Cell lines derived from aborted fetuses were used in the development, production, and testing of vaccines decades ago.

One of the lawsuits, set to be heard on Thursday in State Supreme Court in Albany, challenges the mandate’s legality on procedural grounds, claiming that it should have been enacted by the State Legislature rather than as an emergency regulation by the executive branch. There are also federal court cases that cross paths at certain points of law or involve contradictory decisions made in the state Health Department and then reversed.

One point of contention in the case is whether it is legal for the state to provide medical but not religious exemptions. In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 17 plaintiffs, including doctors and nurses, claim that the mandate violates their First Amendment right to practice their religion and violates federal anti-discrimination law.

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Here’s a rundown of the legal challenges to New York’s vaccine mandate.