Kentucky judge won’t revist order upholing vaccine mandate

Published 7:11 am Sunday, October 3, 2021

A federal judge in Kentucky who upheld St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate has rejected a request to reconsider his decision, the Kentucky Enquirer reported.

The order was filed in district court in Covington on Thursday, a day before the deadline for employees to be vaccinated or receive a medical or religious exemption. U.S. District Judge David Bunning wrote that the claims raised by employees who have fought the mandate “clearly did not merit injunctive relief.”

The suit was filed in early September by 40 employees at St. Elizabeth’s, which has a staff of around 11,200 associates and physicians, according to its website. The lawsuit followed announcements by most of Kentucky’s major hospital systems, including St. Elizabeth’s, that they would require all workers without a medical or religious exemption to be vaccinated.

In his Thursday ruling, Bunning pointed to a 1905 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which upheld a Massachusetts law requiring residents to be vaccinated against smallpox.

Bunning also addressed an accusation that referring to COVID-19 as an “unprecedented global pandemic” was political.

“Whether called an unprecedented global pandemic or a less ominous description, the COVID-19 situation has been, by any objective measure, something that everyone, including the hospital and its employees, has been dealing with for more than 18 months,” Bunning said. “Calling it unprecedented isn’t political, at all. Rather, it is merely a recognition of its extraordinary nature.”

Public health officials repeatedly have declared the vaccines as safe and highly effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19.

Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner, has described the COVID-19 vaccines as a “miracle of modern science.”