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Supreme Court upholds vaccine mandate for health care workers

This ruling impacts 17 million workers and 76,000 medical facilities nationwide, including hospitals and health care clinics throughout San Diego County.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — In a highly anticipated ruling Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers who work in facilities that receive federal funding. 

This ruling by the Supreme Court impacts 17 million workers and 76,000 medical facilities nationwide, according to the White House, including hospitals and health care clinics throughout San Diego County.

Under this five-to-four decision, the Biden administration proved victorious in requiring the COVID vaccine for health care workers employed at facilities that receive federal dollars through Medicare and Medicaid.

"CMS's requirements for health care workers to be vaccinated will save the lives of patients as well as the lives of doctors, nurses and others who work in health care settings," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. 

Legal analyst Dan Eaton pointed out that this decision on the federal level does not impact the statewide mandate already in effect requiring that health care workers in California be vaccinated against the coronavirus and get their booster by February 1.

"This really doesn't affect that," Eaton told CBS 8. "It reinforces it, I suppose, because receipt of federal funds is now conditioned on getting vaccinated, so they are going to have to get vaccinated or they're going to have to get another line of work."

"I was definitely disappointed," said San Diegan and registered nurse Jess McKee, who has worked in health care for the past 21 years.

McKee resigned from her hospital on Thursday, after refusing to get the now-mandated booster shot, after she says she suffered ongoing cardiac problems following her first two vaccine doses.

"I couldn't continue and I couldn't comply with a third shot," she said. "And I didn't feel I should have to get an exemption for that."

McKee believes that it is not right to require the COVID vaccine on either the state or federal level.

"No one should be mandating what should be put into someone else's body," McKee told CBS 8. 

When it comes to patient safety, McKee pointed to new guidance from the California Department of Public Health, which she called contradictory,  allowing COVID-positive health care workers who are asymptomatic to continue working with patients.

"Because they have created such a massive shortage, and now they are mandating something that will make this shortage even worse," she added. "It's just exacerbating everything."

This federal mandate does not include a testing option for unvaccinated workers but does allow for medical and religious exemptions.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego businesses react to SCOTUS ruling against vaccine mandate


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