Religious vaccine exemption stays for NY health care workers

Around New York State

FILE – In this Oct. 5, 2021, file photo, a healthcare worker receives a Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. The number of Americans getting COVID-19 vaccines has steadily increased to a three-month high as seniors and people with medical conditions seek boosters, and government and employer mandates push more workers to take their first doses. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — A federal judge ruled that New York must continue to allow health care workers to seek exemptions from a statewide vaccine mandate on religious grounds as a lawsuit challenging the requirement proceeds.

Judge David Hurd in Utica had issued a temporary restraining order a month ago after 17 doctors, nurses and other health professionals claimed in a lawsuit that their rights would be violated with a vaccine mandate that disallowed the exemptions.

Hurd’s ruling Tuesday means New York will continue to be barred from enforcing any requirement that employers deny religious exemptions.

“My responsibility as Governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that,” Gov. Kathy Hochul says. “I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe.”

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