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New York Repeals COVID Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers

health care worker gazing out

New York health officials have repealed the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers. This state public health law reversal came only minutes before oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by health care workers challenging the COVID vaccine mandate were set to be heard before the New York state Appeals Court in Rochester, NY.1

New York Department of Health officials, apparently anxious to have the lawsuit dismissed, argued that the COVID vaccine mandate was eliminated “due to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving vaccine recommendations.”2 At the same time, while the Health Department will no longer enforce the vaccine mandate, New York health officials urged health care facilities to enforce their own COVID vaccine policies.3

NY Gov. Cuomo’s 2021 COVID Vaccine Mandate Immediately Challenged in Court

On Aug. 16, 2021, a COVID vaccine mandate was instituted and implemented for all health care workers “including staff at hospitals and long-term care facilities (LTCF), including nursing homes, adult care, and other congregate care settings” by then Governor Andrew Cuomo after the New York legislature granted him the power to do so on an emergency basis.4 Cuomo rescinded all other emergency orders, but the COVID vaccine mandate was made a permanent regulation.5 6

Lawsuits challenging the vaccine mandate soon followed. On Jan. 17, 2023, the COVID vaccine mandate was overturned by the trial court which found that the state Department of Health exceeded its authority by enacting the mandate and further noted that “the COVID-19 shots do not prevent transmission.”7

New York officials swiftly appealed the trial court’s decision. The Appeals Court issued a stay allowing the COVID vaccine mandate to remain in effect during the time it was being challenged in court.

Unclear Whether Appeals Court Will Issue a Decision

The fate of the lawsuit is up in the air as the New York Appeals Court has not yet rendered a decision on the matter. The state attorney argued that the higher court should vacate the lower court’s ruling as the complaints are now moot because the vaccine mandate has been repealed. However, the attorney for the health care workers insists that the Appeals Court should render a decision regarding the lower court’s ruling.8

Since the lower court found that the Department of Health had acted outside of its authority by enacting a vaccine mandate, it is likely that state officials are concerned that, should the Appeals Court confirm the lower court’s findings, future vaccine mandates could be in jeopardy.

In addition, although the COVID vaccine mandate now has been dropped by state health officials, should the court make a ruling, it could set precedent and have implications for future vaccine requirements state health officials institute, including but not limited to the potential addition of COVID shots to the list of vaccines required for school attendance in the state.9

Looking to End to the Health Care Staffing Shortage

New York’s healthcare system is currently facing a staffing crisis. Approximately 47,000 health care worker jobs were lost during the pandemic.10 Some 34,000 health care workers, or three percent of the healthcare workforce, lost jobs due to the COVID vaccine mandate.11

Shortly after federal health officials announced the national COVID public health emergency ended on May 11, 2023,12 the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services announced that their COVID vaccine mandate would be lifted for government-funded hospitals and nursing homes. Now that New York health officials have eliminated the COVID vaccine mandate, government funded hospitals like St. Peters Health Partners should be able to rehire some of the 500 employees they lost when the vaccine mandate went into effect, which would help ease the healthcare shortage.13

Steven D. Hanks, president and CEO of the hospital said:

We do know that there are a certain number of them who would come back to the workplace if the mandate was lifted. My hope is that the Department of Health and others in the state will see that it’s really not required to protect the health of the public at this particular time.14


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11 Responses

  1. Shouldn’t a big part of the lawsuit be restitution for the workers who were fired due to refusing the fake vaccine? Shouldn’t they be paid all lost wages? And shouldn’t those workers who were harmed or disabled also be paid all lost wages? Shouldn’t the state be forced to apologize and affirm that they will never again attempt to force medical treatment (especially experimental) on anyone? Should they not affirm that they created their own health worker shortage by dismissing perfectly qualified and experienced people, while disabling a significant proportion of their work force? DON’T LET THEM OFF!! or they will certainly do it again.

    1. No. They broke the law so they have to face the consequences. They were stupid. they should have taken a leave of absence for a year or two and then they could have come back to work later.

      1. Leave of absence? Was that an option? If so, surprising this is the first I’ve heard of this, as there were literally tens of millions of people all coordinating online regarding ways to avoid the heavy handed totalitarian edicts of vaccine mandates to maintain employment.

  2. Problem is ;without a ruling they will pull the same stunt in 2025 when Bill Gates tells us the next pandemic is coming…

  3. Is there a typo in the 3rd paragraph? A mandate was instituted in August 2021, but then Cuomo rescinded it in June 2021? Please clarify.

  4. How to complain for lost wages? I still have to test weekly since I am not fully vaccinated. I have to make sure I don’t become positive from COVID symptomatic people at work. I am the only one subjected to testing. And I was on unpaid for months prior to be allowed to test weekly. I did suffer vaccine injury two times and believed that I was the problem. Until it became absurd situation.

    1. Those nasal swabs are chalked full of toxic chemicals and substances, fyi. It’s time to hit the jobs boards and find something not patient facing, so you can stop the testing nonsense. Just tell your co workers tasked with delivering the test to please just skip it and enter all good. I’d say have them test a banana, but that would likely come back positive.

  5. Amen! They should be paid every penny of lost wages and then some for the incredible emotional suffering they were put through when they were FORCED without a choice as ALL Patients get to do!
    Between staying in a profession most love and dedicated their lives to & allowing themselves to be POISONED because the Government was taking away their CHOICE in order to keep their job and support their families! SHAME ON THIS GOVERNMENT!!

    1. Shame on this government? Shame on the people for allowing their own government to become a rouge entity. Policy for sale. ‘Coercion is not consent.’ Memorize the line. Repeat often.

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