Health care workers in Maine who were fighting their state’s vaccine mandate got some bad news this week when an appeals court ruled that it can stay in place for now, denying their request for an emergency injunction to block it.
The three-judge panel, which is based in Boston, gave no explanation for the one-sentence ruling, according to the Bangor Daily News.
”We are pleased with the decision and will continue to vigorously defend the requirement that health care workers in Maine be vaccinated against COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is a simple and commonsense thing you can do to protect not only yourself, but also your loved ones, co-workers, and the community,” said Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey, who is representing the state of Maine against the lawsuit.
The lawsuit against the vaccine mandate imposed by Governor Janet Mills (D) was filed by Liberty Counsel, which describes itself as “a Christian ministry.”
“Governor Mills cannot override federal law and ignore the legal right of all Maine health care workers to request reasonable accommodation for their sincerely held religious beliefs, and forcing shots without exemptions is unlawful,” Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver said in a statement on Friday.
“With full briefing due Monday, we look forward to a decision from the Court of Appeals,” he added. “If that decision is not favorable, we will request emergency relief from the Supreme Court.”
Mills mandated back in August that all health care workers in the state must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 29. This meant that today was the deadline to receive the vaccine, since it takes two weeks after the final dose of the vaccine to be considered fully immunized.
Earlier this week, U.S. District Court Judge Jon Levy denied a motion for a preliminary injunction that argued the mandate violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act because a religious exemption is not included in it.
“Stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Maine, and specifically stemming outbreaks in designated healthcare facilities to protect patients and healthcare workers, is a legitimate government interest,” Levy said. “For several reasons, the mandate is rationally related to this interest.”
The appeals court agreed with this ruling today with their own ruling.