A federal judge in Kentucky on Friday upheld the hospital system’s mandate for a COVID-19 vaccine, ruling that the hospital has the authority to issue such a requirement.
In a 20-page rule, U.S. District Judge David Banning denied a request by St. Elizabeth Healthcare employees to temporarily block the authorization.
Bonning’s ruling was based on the 1905 Supreme Court ruling, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which allowed the City of Cambridge to enforce vaccinations during the smallpox pandemic.
“Jacobson and her case have not been overturned by the Supreme Court, so this court will abide by her and his principles,” Banning wrote. “True freedom for all of us cannot exist where individual liberties outweigh the potential harm to others.”
Mark Gilfoyle, an attorney for St. Elizabeth Healthcare, told the Cincinnati Inquirer that the ruling was “good news for St. Elizabeth’s patients, for St. Elizabeth’s colleagues, and for our entire community.”
Elizabeth Healthcare employees working in northern Kentucky, southeastern Indiana and the greater Cincinnati areas — filed a lawsuit early this month, arguing that the mandate violated their constitutional rights.
The health care system requires employees to vaccinate or apply for a medical or religious exemption by October 1. Failure to comply with the authorization may result in termination of service.
Boning said in his ruling that prosecutors have made it clear that they suspect COVID-19 vaccines. However, he said, the issue is about balancing “private equity and public equity.”
“The plaintiffs have made it clear that they are skeptical about the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines,” Banning wrote. They also expressed the views of medical professionals who share the same skepticism. But unfortunately, suspicion cannot take precedence over the law, which recognizes the right of suspects to determine terms of employment.”
The ruling comes as vaccine mandates become the latest flashpoint in the pandemic as the United States grapples with a string of infections fueled by a rapidly spreading delta variable. President BidenA fighter guides planes into restricted airspace during UN meeting Julian Castro dismisses Biden government on refugee policy FBI investigates alleged attack on a soldier at Fort Bliss in an Afghan refugee camp More Earlier this month, it ordered companies with at least 100 employees to order weekly vaccinations or tests.
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