In the US, the Supreme Court has temporarily stopped a vaccination or test requirement in larger companies decreed by President Joe Biden’s government. The regulation, which was not passed by parliament but by administrative means, which would apply to more than 80 million workers, probably exceeds the competence of the competent authority, the Supreme Court said on Thursday. This means that companies with more than 100 employees do not initially have to ensure that their employees are either fully vaccinated or regularly tested. An obligation to wear masks has also been stopped for the time being. The regulation for companies was seen as an important means of pressure by the government to persuade employees to be immunized in view of the complex and regular tests in order to increase the vaccination rate in the USA. So far, almost 63 percent of the population – or around 208 million people – have been fully vaccinated against the virus. Of them, only around 77 million, or 37 percent, also received a booster shot.
Compulsory vaccinations in healthcare facilities
Biden said he was “disappointed” with the court’s decision to block a “life-saving” rule backed by science. He will continue to promote vaccinations and appeals to employers “to do the right thing to protect the health and economy of Americans,” Biden said. In another decision on requiring vaccinations for medical workers in hospitals and nursing homes that are supported by federal funds, the government’s Supreme Court agreed on Thursday. The government has authority under current legislation to ensure the health and safety of patients in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, it said. Corona vaccination is therefore mandatory for the vast majority of health facilities. According to the White House, more than 10 million employees in 76,000 healthcare facilities are affected. The vaccination requirement for larger companies should have been in effect since this week. Several Republican-led states and businessmen had sued against it. Now the regulation goes back to a lower authority for the final examination. The Supreme Court’s decision is based on the conservative majority of the nine-member court. The three more liberal judges wrote in a dissenting opinion that the competent authority (OSHA) was quite right in ordering vaccination or testing in view of the great danger posed by the pandemic. The authority’s task is to protect employees from “serious dangers”. OSHA assumes that the regulation will prevent around 6,500 deaths and 250,000 hospital admissions in the next six months. “And there is no reason to dispute that,” the judges wrote.
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The conservative judges emphasized in a statement that they had not decided on the justification for compulsory vaccination, but on a question of the separation of powers: Was the order legal and is the federal authority responsible for it? “This court is not a health authority,” the judges said. However, the states and municipalities have extensive powers when it comes to health care issues. The pandemic has been going on for two years, but Congress in Washington did not vote to give OSHA or any other federal agency the power to mandate vaccination, the judges said. “The question before us is not how to respond to the pandemic, but who has the authority to do so,” they wrote. “The answer is clear: Under current law, that power rests with the states and Congress, not OSHA,” they wrote.
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