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Judge won't block vaccine mandate for Minnesota workers

U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel held a three-hour hearing on whether to block the requirement but ultimately denied the request.

ST PAUL, Minn. — A federal judge won't block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for scores of Minnesota health care workers, at least for the present. 

Nearly 200 Minnesota health care workers filed a lawsuit in September challenging the requirement from President Joe Biden's administration that all workers in most health settings get vaccinated or lose their jobs. 

Minnesota Public Radio reports U.S. District Judge Nancy Brasel held a three-hour hearing on whether to block the requirement but ultimately denied the request. She didn't dismiss the case outright, however. 

Judge Brasel said in court that health care workers filed the request anonymously, and will have to reveal their names to employers.

The new lawsuit was filed on Sept. 27 in U.S. District Court. Defendants include federal officials and organizations, plus about 20 Minnesota health care providers.

The 187 health care workers listed as plaintiffs include people with religious objections to the vaccines and those who say their previous COVID-19 infections make them immune. The lawsuit contends that the lack of alternatives to vaccines infringe upon the rights of these employees. 

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The plaintiffs said they want to remain anonymous, citing fears of employer retaliation, social criticism and ostracism. 

"Instead of being hailed as heroes now, they are chastised and ridiculed as 'antivaxxers' or worse," the lawsuit reads. 

The plaintiffs include three doctors as well as a number of nurses, technicians and other staff. Most have requested exemptions from the vaccine mandate. While a majority of those requests remain in limbo, nearly a dozen were listed as granted and one was allegedly denied. 

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The lawsuit contends that while employees can request exemptions "there is no guarantee that the exemption will not be withdrawn at a later date."

Among the listed defendants are the CDC, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Mayo Clinic, Allina Health and M Health Fairview.