In a decision opposed to its OSHA ruling issued on the same day, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has allowed the federal government to mandate COVID vaccinations for health care workers. From Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog:
The orders that the justices issued on Thursday afternoon were the latest chapter in the fast-moving vaccine disputes. After the cases came to the Supreme Court in December on an emergency basis, the justices opted to expedite the cases for oral argument on whether the mandates can remain in place while the challenges proceed in the lower courts. The court heard nearly four hours of arguments on the policies on Jan. 7 and issued a pair of unsigned opinions just six days later.
Regarding the health care case specifically, Howe writes:
The OSHA ruling was 6-3, the health care worker ruling was 5-4. The swing vote was Justice Kavanaugh.
Dissenting Justices Thomas, with concurring Justices Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett, wrote:
Health care industry organization responds to the ruling
Nursing Home Industry Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling on Health Care Worker Vaccine Mandate
The American Health Care Association (AHCA), representing more than 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities across the country that provide care to approximately five million people each year, released the following statement in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the vaccine mandate for health care workers.
The statement is attributable to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA.
“We respect the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court but remain concerned that the repercussions of the vaccine mandate among health care workers will be devastating to an already decimated long term care workforce. When we are in the midst of another COVID surge, caregivers in vaccine hesitant communities may walk off the job because of this policy, further threatening access to care for thousands of our nation’s seniors. We continue to ask that CMS and state surveyors show leniency during this critical time as well as consider a regular testing option for unvaccinated staff members to prevent worsening staff shortages.
“Long term care providers have been relentless in encouraging staff to get vaccinated, and we have made considerable progress with 83 percent of nursing home staff now fully vaccinated. However, rampant misinformation has sowed doubt and concern among many on the frontlines. We must collectively address the root cause of vaccine hesitancy rather than penalize providers who are making valiant efforts.”