NEW YORK (WABC) -- A federal judge in New York has issued a temporary restraining order that stops the state from enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate if a health care worker claims a religious exemption.
The decision is a win - at least temporarily - for a group of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who challenged a state regulation mandating the COVID-19 vaccination of health care workers with no exemption for religious beliefs that compel the refusal of such vaccination.
The lawsuit accused former Gov. Andrew Cuomo of running a "nearly 18-month-long medical dictatorship" and is laden with grievances about pandemic policies both in New York and outside the state.
"The same front line health care workers hailed as heroes by the media for treating COVID patients before vaccines were available, including the Plaintiffs herein, are now vilified by the same media as pariahs who must be excluded from society until they are vaccinated against their will," the lawsuit said.
The plaintiffs asserted the state's vaccine mandate resulted from "an atmosphere of fear and irrationality" and insisted the vaccines "violate their religiously beliefs, are clearly not as effective as promised, and have known and increasing evident risks of severe and even life-threatening side effects."
The judge's order that temporarily blocks enforcement instructed the state to respond by next week.
Oral argument is scheduled in Utica federal court for September 28, one day after the health worker vaccine mandate was to have taken effect.
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