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US Supreme Court denies request to block Maine’s health care worker COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The COVID vaccine mandate for Maine health care workers went into effect Friday. Now, Maine leaders and organizations are reacting.

MAINE, USA — Editor's note: The above video aired Oct. 13 when a federal judge ruled not to halt the vaccine mandate.

The Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal from health care workers in Maine to block a vaccine mandate that went into effect Friday.

Three conservative justices noted their dissents. The state is not offering a religious exemption to hospital and nursing home workers who risk losing their jobs if not vaccinated.

Maine officials, hospitals, organizations, and more responded to the ruling Friday night. 

Northern Light Health spokesperson Andrew Soucier issued the following statement:

"We are gratified that the United States Supreme Court has declined to overturn the lower court's recognition that Maine's COVID-19 mandate, and our decision to implement it, are the best means to protect the health and safety of health care providers, staff, and patients from this deadly disease."

Liberty Counsel, the organization that filed the lawsuit representing as many as 2,000 Maine health care workers, says it now plans to file a petition for the Supreme Court to review the case's merits. 

Gov. Janet Mills missed the following statement:

"Vaccinations are the best tool we have to protect the lives and livelihoods of Maine people and to turn back this pandemic. Health care workers perform a critical role in keeping Maine people healthy, and it is imperative that hospitals and other settings take every precaution to protect their workers and patients against this deadly virus, especially in view of the more infectious Delta variant. Anyone who is placed in the care of these facilities has the right to expect – as do their families – that they will receive high-quality, safe care from fully vaccinated staff. This rule protects health care workers, their patients, and the stability of our health care system in the face of this dangerous virus. Just as vaccination defeated smallpox and vaccination defeated polio, vaccination is the way to defeat COVID-19."

In a press release, Attorney General Aaron M. Frey said:

"The Supreme Court's action today means that the First Circuit's decision, which upheld Maine's rule requiring certain healthcare facilities to ensure their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19, will stand. The First Circuit held that this reasonable requirement does not violate the First Amendment's Free Exercise clause. The requirement is constitutional. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to prevent further burdens on Maine's healthcare system, and the best way to protect ourselves, our neighbors, and our loved ones. I urge all eligible Mainers who have not yet received their COVID-19 vaccine to do so as soon as possible."

This story will be updated as more reactions come in.


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