FILE PHOTO: Syringes filled with a doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine are seen at a pop-up community vaccination center at the Gateway World Christian Center in Valley Stream, New York, U.S., February 23, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
(Reuters) – A U.S. judge in New York on Tuesday temporarily blocked the state from enforcing a requirement that healthcare workers receive COVID-19 vaccines against the wishes of employees with religious objections.
U.S. District Judge David Hurd in Utica, New York in a written order said he was blocking the mandate from taking effect on Sept. 27 because it does not allow for exemptions based on workers’ religious beliefs.
The order came in a lawsuit filed on Monday by 17 doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who say New York’s requirement violates their constitutional rights in various ways.
The plaintiffs are all Christians who say they object to receiving the vaccines because the cell lines of aborted fetuses were used in their testing and development.
Hurd gave the state until Sept. 22 to respond to the lawsuit, and said he will hold a Sept. 28 hearing on whether to block the vaccine requirement from taking effect pending the outcome of the case.
The mandate was issued here last month by former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said at the time that about 75% of the state’s roughly 450,000 hospital workers were fully vaccinated.
The New York Attorney General’s office, which represents the state, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did lawyers for the plaintiffs.
Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell