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Health care worker vaccine mandate challenged by AG Cameron is blocked nationwide

Kate Howard

Hospitals across the nation won’t have to make sure their workers are vaccinated after a judge temporarily blocked another federal mandate challenged by Kentucky’s Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

The decision doesn’t preclude workplaces from requiring vaccines, and several hospital systems in Kentucky are mandating their workers get the shots anyway.

Cameron joined 13 other states suing over the requirement, which threatened to withhold Medicare and Medicaid funding from health care businesses that don’t ensure employees are vaccinated by Jan. 4.

The decision came from U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty, of Louisiana’s western district, and applies to the entire country.

In his ruling, Doughty wrote that President Joe Biden’s administration doesn’t have the power to issue vaccine mandates, and questioned whether Congress would even be able to.

“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. It is not clear that even an Act of Congress mandating a vaccine would be constitutional,” Doughty wrote.

“If human nature and history teach anything, it is that civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency.”

The decision on Tuesday came hours after aruling from a different judge thattemporarily blocked the federal vaccine mandate for contractors in Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio. Cameron led that effort along with attorneys general from those states.

The lawsuit over the health care worker vaccine mandate was led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

The states participating in the lawsuit include Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

In a statement, Cameron said the decision means workers won’t lose their jobs for not getting vaccinated.

“We are grateful to the court for the relief this decision brings to burdened health care facilities and compassionate health care workers, in Kentucky and across our nation, who feared losing their jobs under this mandate,” Cameron wrote.

The decision comes as coronaviruscases are ticking up in Kentucky again and worries are mounting over a new variant of the virus, omicron.

According to the Mayo Clinic,52% of Kentuckians are fully vaccinated. About 60% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated.

At least 11 hospital systems in Kentucky require their employees to get vaccinated.

Ryland is the state capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. Always looking to put a face to big issues,Ryland'sreporting has taken him to drought-weary towns in West Texas and relocated communities in rural China. He's covered breaking news like the 2014 shooting at Fort Hood Army Base and the aftermath of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
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