Vaccine mandate for health care workers halted nationwide by Louisiana judge

By: and - November 30, 2021 6:26 pm

COVID-19 vaccine is stored at -80 degrees Celsius on Dec. 18, 2020, in the pharmacy at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Louisiana on Tuesday issued a ruling blocking nationwide the Biden administration mandate requiring millions of health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.

A suit challenging the mandate was led on behalf of multiple states by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, and U.S. Judge Terry Doughty granted the states’ request for a preliminary injunction.

Doughty said in his opinion that he extended the injunction beyond those states and to the entire U.S. because “there are unvaccinated healthcare workers in other states who also need protection.”

States joining Louisiana in its suit, filed Nov. 15, included Montana, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

Doughty, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said that “this Court believes the balance of equities and the public interest favors the issuance of a preliminary injunction.”

“The public interest is served by maintaining the constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals who do not want to take the COVID-19 vaccine,” he wrote. “This interest outweighs Government Defendants’ interests. “

At issue is President Joe Biden’s campaign to ensure that workers throughout the country are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Under Biden’s order, many private-sector employees were required to get vaccinated or undergo weekly tests, while some 17 million health care providers at facilities participating in the federal Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs must be vaccinated — with no option to choose weekly testing instead.

Under the requirement, health care workers were to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022.

Becker’s Hospital Review reported earlier this month that a federal study found 30 percent of health care workers in 2,000 hospitals across the U.S. remained  unvaccinated as of Sept. 15.

“I applaud Judge Doughty for recognizing that Louisiana is likely to succeed on the merits and for delivering yet another victory for the medical freedom of Americans,” Landry said in a statement. “While Joe Biden villainizes our healthcare heroes with his ‘jab or job’ edicts, I will continue to stand up to the President’s bully tactics and fight for liberty.”

The Louisiana ruling followed another on Monday by a federal judge in Missouri that blocked enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for millions  in 10 states.

That ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp, another Trump appointee, affected the states involved in that lawsuit: Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Wyoming and Alaska.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that the administration is “obviously going to abide by the law and fight any efforts in courts or otherwise” to prevent health care facilities from protecting their work forces.

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Jane Norman
Jane Norman

As the Washington Bureau Chief of States Newsroom, Jane directs national coverage, managing staff and freelance reporters in the nation’s capital and assigning and editing state-specific daily and enterprise stories. Jane is a veteran of more than three decades in journalism.

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Laura Olson
Laura Olson

Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Kansas Reflector. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

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