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Vaccine Mandates Become More Common Leading to Some Pushback

As the Delta variant continues to cause significant outbreaks across the country, particularly in areas with lower vaccination rates, some employers have chosen to require employees to get vaccinated. To encourage additional vaccinations, President Biden has announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is developing a rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure “their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work.” The White House anticipates this new rule will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses.

In August 2021, former Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered all of New York’s healthcare workers to get vaccinated against COVID by Monday, September 27. At Lewis County General Hospital in upstate New York, “dozens of staff members walked away from their jobs” because they refused to get vaccinated. As a result, the hospital announced it will temporarily halt maternity services because it will be “unable to safely staff” its maternity department and newborn nursery. According to NPR, 73% of the employees at this hospital are vaccinated. The COVID transmission rate in the county is “very high” and less than half of the county is vaccinated.

However, a federal judge has temporarily halted New York’s ability to require COVID vaccinations following the filing of a lawsuit by a group of health care workers. They assert the mandate violates their constitutional rights because it does not allow for religious exemptions. A physician interviewed in connection with the decision noted that “No major religious denomination opposes the vaccinations.”