Amid a legal challenge that is still ongoing, the New York State Department of Health has decided to end the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
New York state officials made the announcement on Wednesday, before the courts could formally rule that the state no longer has the authority for the COVID vaccine mandate. Amid pleas to the Rochester appellate judge to dismiss the lawsuit against them, officials announced that the mandate will officially end after September of this year.
“Due to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving vaccine recommendations, the New York State Department of Health has begun the process of repealing the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for workers at regulated health care facilities,” the state Department of Health wrote in a statement. “Throughout the public health emergency, this vaccine requirement served as a critical public health tool, helping to protect both health care workers and the patients under their care.”
Roughly one million individuals were subjected to the COVID vaccine mandate, and the Department of Health has estimated that around 30,000 healthcare workers have lost their employment recently because they refused to get the vaccine.
In January a New York State Supreme Court invalidated the mandate in response to a lawsuit filed by the organization Medical Professions for Informed Consent — which identified then DOH Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett as a respondent.
“In true Orwellian fashion, the Respondents acknowledge then-current COVID-19 shots do not prevent transmission,” Judge Gerard Neri wrote in his decision, declaring that the mandate was “null, void.”
That decision was appealed by the State of New York, in what One America News described as “an effort to maintain its right to mandate vaccinations in the future.”
“The requirement that health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 protects vulnerable New Yorkers and the people who care for them, and it is a critical public health tool. The State Health Department strongly disagrees with the judge’s decision and is exploring all options,” a department spokesperson wrote in an email at the time.
According to One America News, since the government’s latest decision to end the mandate for healthcare workers, the rule “has no longer been the subject of departmental enforcement activities” — but because of administrative delays, the mandate will not formally end “until at least September.”
The State Department of Health will reportedly not begin any new enforcement actions of the mandate while the Public Health and Health Planning Council considers whether to approve repealing the regulation.
“However, it should be noted that facilities should continue to implement their own internal policies regarding COVID-19 vaccination,” the department stated.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) celebrated the decision to end the mandate in a post on Twitter.
“The pandemic is over, and NY families & small businesses have returned to normal. Finally, our healthcare workers can too! It is past time to end this overreaching and unconstitutional vaccine mandate on healthcare workers!” she wrote.
The pandemic is over, and NY families & small businesses have returned to normal.
Finally, our healthcare workers can too!
It is past time to end this overreaching and unconstitutional vaccine mandate on healthcare workers!https://t.co/NZ730INWHh
— Rep. Claudia Tenney (@RepTenney) May 25, 2023