US federal judge blocks federal vaccine mandate for healthcare workers
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US federal judge blocks federal vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

Judge Terry Douglas of the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana Tuesday blocked a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for US health care workers. This nationwide injunction halts the mandate, pending a full judicial review of the mandate’s legality.

The court found that the government would not be able defend the order, considering the amount of time that it took to initiate the order and the lack of consultation with members of affected communities. The court noted concerns about the loss of healthcare workers who could potentially quit over the vaccine mandate. The court further noted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s “puzzling” rejection of “natural immunity” as a reasonable alternative to the vaccine among the reasons for issuing the injunction.

The injunction follows a Missouri district court decision to block the mandate in 10 states that was granted Monday. District Judge Matthew Schelp likewise noted legal barriers needed to be addressed before the order could be upheld. Judge Schelp similarly included the lack of jurisdictional authority and the lack of notice, and emphasized the lack of “reasonable” explanations for the mandate to the list of concerns.

The order affects over 10 million healthcare workers across the country. The reason for the mandate, as quoted in Judge Douglas’ decision, was to “protect the health and safety of individuals providing and receiving care and services . . . and [under] CMS’s broad authority to establish health and safety regulations, we are compelled to require staff vaccinations for COVIS-19 in these settings.”

The standard for preliminary injunctions includes the demonstration of the substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case, that there is a likelihood to suffer irreparable harm, that the balance of equities tips in the plaintiff’s favor, and that an injunction is in the public’s interest.