Attorney General Jeff Landry is trying again to block the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare workers

The US Supreme Court ruled otherwise last month, but the Louisiana attorney general is again trying to get a court to block the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers in facilities that accept federal funding. Republican Jeff Landry calls the requirement a “job-killing policy” that has been shown to not stop the spread of the virus.

The immunization mandate applies to healthcare providers who accept Medicare and Medicaid payments. In the 24 states that have unsuccessfully challenged the mandate, affected employees must provide evidence by February 14 that they have started the vaccination series or received an approved exemption, and they must be fully vaccinated by March 15. In states that have not done so by mandate, the deadline for healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated is February 28.

Louisiana is one of 16 states where the current challenge is taking place based on what Landry described as “new guidance” from the federal government issued after the Jan. 13 Supreme Court decision. In his statement, the attorney general said the Biden administration “imposed a brand-new immunization mandate for government officials to investigate and report compliance by Medicare and Medicaid facilities, including the mandate itself.”

Landry’s statement said the looming mandate is “wreaking havoc on the healthcare job market across the country – particularly in rural communities – and fails to take into account the changing circumstances of the pandemic.”

“The CMS vaccination rule remains a misguided, job-destroying one-size-fits-all policy that fails to account for changing circumstances — including the vaccines failing to stop transmission of the Omicron variant,” said Attorney General Jeff Landry. “More than that, the federal government has now made it clear that it expects the federal states to implement this failed policy with state employees. So I will continue to fight against this unwise encroachment on individual autonomy and the rights of my state.”

Recent studies show that two versions of the COVID-19 vaccine improve immune cell protection against the Omicron variant. The Centers for Disease Control has said that no vaccine is 100% effective at stopping disease transmission. The results show that vaccinated people are far less likely to experience severe symptoms of COVID-19 and typically avoid hospitalization.

Landry’s statement cites research, without citing a source, showing that “standard COVID-19 vaccines provide little protection against transmission of the Omicron variant.” The Attorney General also alleges that “Federal authorities have begun to retract previous claims about the effectiveness of the vaccines against this now dominant variant,” but without further context.

It is widely accepted that COVID-19 boosters improve protection against variants of the virus, including Omicron, but how often boosters will be needed is still undetermined.

Landry’s eligibility complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. Other states participating in the challenge include Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

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