COVID-19 vaccination mandates are facing resistance all over the country, with many workers in both the private and public sectors petitioning the court system to keep themselves from getting their shots (or shot, singular, in the case of the Johnson & Johnson “Oooo, she’s different...” single-dose option).
Some of the opposition to these mandates, designed with the intention of curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, is over a claimed infringement on constitutional rights. That’s the reason given by some of the employees at the St. Elizabeth Healthcare hospital system in northern Kentucky, The Hill reports, who asked a U.S. district judge to temporarily block a mandate requiring them to either get vaccinated or file a request for medical or religious exemption from vaccination by Oct. 1.
The aforementioned, David Bunning, denied their request on Friday, citing Jacobsen v. Massachusetts, a 1905 Supreme Court ruling that let the city of Cambridge mandate smallpox vaccinations, as precedent.
“Jacobson and its holding have not been overturned by the Supreme Court, and this Court will thus abide by it and its principles,” Bunning wrote, per The Hill. “Actual liberty for all of us cannot exist where individual liberties override potential injury done to others.”
A similar conflict has sprung up in New York City, where public school employees—who are currently required to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID testing—are facing a vaccination mandate, set to go into effect early next week. A group of teachers successfully appealed the decision on Friday, ABC7 reports, temporarily barring the mandate from going into effect as scheduled.
According to Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, the effort to delay the mandate was to prevent what he described as a “nightmare scenario” in which the 10,000 teachers who are not currently vaccinated would be unable to show up to work on Tuesday, thereby forcing schools to scramble around for substitutes to cover their classes. “We are concerned,” he told the ABC affiliate. “Very, very concerned.”
In August, the White House issued a mandate requiring all businesses with at least 100 employees to make sure their workers were either vaccinated or submitting to weekly testing. Just over 55 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as are approximately two-thirds (66.4%) of adults in the U.S.