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Judge allows New York health care workers to seek religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine

The ruling only grants short-term relief as the lawsuit makes it through the court system.

Updated: October 12, 2021 - 5:00pm

New York health care workers can continue seeking religious exemptions to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, following a federal judge’s ruling Tuesday. 

According to The Hill, Judge David Hurd issued a temporary injunction barring New York from enforcing its vaccine mandate that prohibits religious exemptions for health care workers.

Hurd previously issued a preliminary restraining order against the state after 17 medical professionals sued New York, claiming the mandate violated their constitutional rights.

The recent ruling only grants short-term relief as the lawsuit makes it through the court system.

According to the Associated Press, Hurd’s decision also prevents the state from revoking previously granted religious exemptions.

In the ruling, Hurd alluded to the potential success of the lawsuit, saying the vaccine mandate “conflicts with plaintiffs’ and other individuals’ federally protected right to seek a religious accommodation from their individual employers.”

Despite the court’s ruling, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul plans on challenging the judge’s decision, and remains confident that this type of vaccine mandate is necessary for people working in health care.

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

Currently, about 64% of the entire state of New York is vaccinated against COVID-19.