I have gotten calls over the past week from folks who are working under a newly-implemented vaccine mandate and are still hesitating about getting the shot. The day is fast approaching when folks who refuse the shot without an exemption will face termination from employment.
The axe has already started to drop in New York state; I have not heard from anyone who has lost their job in Connecticut, yet.
I sympathize with those who continue to remain hesitant about getting the shot. Allowing a foreign substance to enter your body through coercion is frightening. The loss of control can be overwhelming. I get it — even though I remain a full supporter of the vaccine. I still believe it is the only way to efficiently save lives right now.
But that doesn’t make it any easier for those who do not want the shot. I might think that getting the vaccine is the most rational step to take as we face off against this pandemic; but, for those who refuse, refusal seems like the only rational decision for them.
For those folks who have a sincerely-held religious belief against getting this particular vaccination, there is hope that you can avoid the shot and keep your job. I have helped many do just that. But you need to have a sincerely-held religious belief to take advantage of the exemption. For now.
In New York, where folks have started losing their jobs, a federal judge is currently considering a case about religious exemptions to the state mandate. In New York, the mandate applies to all folks working in hospitals and nursing homes and does not allow an opt-out through regular testing.
The New York mandate does allow for medical exceptions, but not for religious exemptions. As a result, thousands of healthcare workers are now facing termination for refusing to get the shot. A number of them have filed suit in federal court alleging that requiring the shot despite a sincerely-held religious belief against the vaccination violates the workers’ constitutional rights to practice religion.
Last month, a federal court judge in Utica, NY, issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the state from issuing sanctions against a facility that allowed religious exemptions to the vaccine for its workers. The judge is set to issue a decision on the permanent injunction request by Tuesday.
Folks seeking the exemption have claimed that their religious beliefs mandate that they honor their own bodily autonomy and reject certain medical interventions. Others have objected to the vaccine because of an alleged connection between development of the vaccine and the use of fetal cell lines.
While the Catholic church supports the vaccine, the church’s position has no real effect upon the sincere religious beliefs of individual Catholics who refuse the vaccine.
This all matters to folks living and working in the Nutmeg State because if federal courts determine that a religious exemption does not apply to vaccine mandates, it is possible that Governor Lamont may modify his vaccination order and require vaccines even for those who object on a religious basis.