Judge Cancels New York’s Vaccine Mandate For Health Workers

A New York state Supreme Court judge has blocked the state’s COVID vaccine mandate for its health workers.

Judge Gerald Neri blocked the mandate on Friday, ruling that mandating a vaccine that is not included in New York State Public Health Law was beyond the authority of Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York State Health Department.

Neri ruled that the mandate is “null, void, and of no effect,” prohibiting the state governor’s office and the health department from going outside the legislature to implement a mandatory immunization program for adults and children. He also added that COVID-19 vaccines are not authorized in state law. The health law only covers mumps, measles and hepatitis, and the likes.

The judge’s ruling sided with the Medical Professionals for Informed Consent, a group of medical professionals who lost their jobs or were at risk of losing their jobs due to failure to comply with the vaccine mandate. Children’s Health Defense had funded a lawsuit on behalf of the group against the state in hopes of getting the mandate overturned.

While the state argued that the mandate was reasonable and backed by prior court decisions, the judge disagreed, telling the state that it sidestepped its authority by making the mandate permanent.

The state did try to argue that vaccines protect fully vaccinated people who come down with COVID-19 from serious illness or death, Neri was not convinced as he held on to the state’s acceptance of the fact that vaccines don’t prevent transmission of the virus.

“In true Orwellian fashion, the Respondents acknowledge then-current COVID-19 shots do not prevent transmission,” he stated in his ruling.

Neri also found an absurdity in the health department’s definition of “fully vaccinated.” “ A term which is defined at the whim of an entity, subject to change without a moment’s notice contains all the hallmarks of ‘absurdity’ and is no definition at all,” he wrote.

Celebrating the latest court decision, the Plaintiffs’ lead attorney Sujuta Gibson wrote, “This is a huge win for New York healthcare workers, who have been deprived of their livelihoods for more than a year. This is also a huge win for all New Yorkers, who are facing dangerous and unprecedented healthcare worker shortages throughout New York State.”

New York’s requirement that healthcare workers be vaccinated was enacted in August 2021 after the state legislature ceded power to then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The mandate has led to many lawsuits with a 2021 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court allowing the mandate to carry on.

In light of the initial court’s decision, it is unknown how Neri’s ruling will impact legal precedent.

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