Massachusetts judge blocks Boston's COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The judge's injunction will prevent the firing of union workers and first responders who have opted not to get vaccinated.
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A health worker in India prepares a COVID-19 vaccine, Feb. 12
A health worker in India prepares a COVID-19 vaccine, Feb. 12
(Hindustan Times/Getty)

A Massachusetts Appeals Court judge has blocked Boston's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal employees, in response to a suit brought by unions that represent first responders.

Justice Sabita Singh of the Massachusetts Appeals Court on Tuesday temporarily blocked the mandate from going into effect, prevents union workers from getting fired for failing to comply with the mandate.

Workers will for now be able to opt for routine testing instead of vaccination.

The suit and court decision is in response to a mandate by Democratic Mayor Michelle Wu that all 19,000 city employees be vaccinated by Jan. 15, which was followed by negotiations between the mayor's office and the unions about enforcement.

The crux of the lawsuit by the Boston Police Superior Officer Federation, the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society, and the Boston Firefighters Union Local 718, is that the mandate violates part of the collective bargaining law with the city. 

A coalition of city workers, Boston First Responders United, opposed to the mandate, saying it stands with the judge's decision and thanks the plaintiffs for "representing their respective members by showing a willingness to engage in litigation to preserve workers rights."