A day after a federal judge blocked a vaccine mandate of staff at Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities in 10 states, a second U.S. judge applied the ruling nationwide where the mandate was still in effect.
A federal judge on Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction to stop a national COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers. The order expanded on a separate decision issued by a federal judge on Monday which only applied to 10 states that protested President Joe Biden’s decision to require all health care workers to receive their first shot by December 6.
Judge Terry A. Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana blocked the vaccine mandate for health care workers nationwide employed by Medicare and Medicaid health care facilities. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandated on November 5 that staff receive the first vaccine by December 6 and the second vaccine by January 4, 2022. The CMS mandate covers more than 10.3 million health care workers in the United States. Of those, 2.4 million health care workers are currently unvaccinated. CMS issued the mandate to help drive down COVID-19 infections and protect patients from unvaccinated staff.
“There is no question that mandating a vaccine to 10.3 million health care workers is something that should be done by Congress, not a government agency,” Doughty wrote in the 34-page ruling. “It is not clear that even an act of Congress mandating a vaccine would be constitutional. Certainly, CMS does not have this authority by a general authorization statue.”
This preliminary injunction will remain in effect pending the final resolution of this case, or until further orders from the U.S. District Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, or the United States Supreme Court.
During a briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the preliminary injunction involving the 10 states. She said that the administration will “abide by the law and fight any efforts in court or otherwise to prevent local authorities, officials, leaders in the health care industry and other industries from protecting their workforces.” She added that individual companies and health care leaders can also mandate vaccinations of their workforces. “That’s something that a number of companies, a number of health care providers across the country have done and done successfully,” she said.