Arnot Health employees required to declare COVID-19 vaccination intent


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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Arnot Health is continuing to prepare for the possibility of a New York State COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all healthcare employees despite a recent ruling that temporarily blocked one of Governor Kathy Hochul’s latest COVID-19 mandates.

The healthcare worker vaccine mandate was temporarily halted by Judge David Hurd in Utica after 17 health professionals claimed their rights were violated with a vaccine mandate that disallowed the exemptions.

While the mandate battle continues in the court system, Arnot Health is requiring employees to “declare their intent” when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Arnot Health is continuing our preparations to comply with the NYS mandate that all healthcare workers receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Monday, September 27.  All unvaccinated employees are required to declare their intent to either receive the vaccine prior to the deadline, request an exemption/accommodation from the mandate, or decline to receive the vaccine.  We are assessing those responses daily and are engaged in contingency planning to ensure the safe delivery of care.  This is an ongoing process, and we will provide updates as they become available.”

Kenneth Roberts, System Director of Marketing, Communications and Community Relations

Judge Hurd gave New York state until Sept. 22 to respond to the lawsuit in federal court in Utica. If the state opposes the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary court order blocking the vaccine mandate, a Sept. 28 oral hearing will occur.

The state issued the order Aug. 28, requiring at least a first shot for health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes by Sept. 27.

The plaintiffs in the Utica lawsuit cited violations of the U.S. Constitution, along with the New York State Human Rights Law and New York City Human Rights Law, because the state Department of Health regulation requiring workers to get the vaccine provided no exemption for “sincere religious beliefs that compel the refusal of such vaccination.”

The court papers said all of the available vaccines employ aborted fetus cell lines in their testing, development or production. But religious leaders have disagreed over the issue and the Vatican issued a statement last year saying the vaccines were “morally acceptable.”

The lawsuit said the plaintiffs wanted to proceed anonymously because they “run the risk of ostracization, threats of harm, immediate firing and other retaliatory consequences if their names become known.”

The plaintiffs, all Christians, included practicing doctors, nurses, a nuclear medicine technologist, a cognitive rehabilitation therapist and a physician’s liaison who all oppose as a matter of religious conviction any medical cooperation in abortion, the lawsuit said.

It added that they are not “anti-vaxxers” who oppose all vaccines.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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