By Jefferey Jaxen

After a week of two high-profile legal rulings, the Biden Administration’s health care worker vaccine mandate is dead in the water…for now. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has voluntarily suspended enforcement of the health care worker mandate in a new memo released Thursday afternoon.

The memo specifically states that CMS will not enforce the new rule regarding vaccination of health care workers or requirements for policies or procedures in certified Medicare/Medicaid providers and suppliers while there are court-ordered injunctions in place prohibiting enforcement of this provision.

Earlier in the week, following a lawsuit from Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri issued a preliminary injunction halting the Biden Administration from enforcing its vaccine mandate on healthcare workers in 9 other states that joined Missouri’s coalition.

Shortly after, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana expanded the injunction nationwide to the remaining states adding “It is not clear that even an act of Congress mandating a vaccine would be constitutional.”

Also this week, a Kentucky federal judge blocked Biden’s vaccine mandate for government contractors in the state along with Ohio and Tennessee who had also joined the legal action.

Even before the court-ordered injunctions and CMS backing down, U.S. health care personal remained weary of mandatory COVID vaccination policies. A recent analysis looking at over 3.3M hospital-based health care personal in 2,086 hospitals and found “a substantial percentage (approximately 30%) remain unvaccinated.” The data was taken from the Department of Health and Human Services Unified Hospital Data Surveillance System during a timeframe of January 20, 2021 to September 15, 2021.

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) toy with the idea of changing the definition of fully vaccinated to those who have received their primary shot(s) and a booster, will health care professionals begin to question the moving goal posts as the agency wrestles with a public messaging nightmare?

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