BREAKING: On January 13, 2022, relying on a brief we filed on behalf of 16 medical associations, the Supreme Court upheld the CMS COVID-19 vaccination requirements. We commend the Court for listening to medical professionals & permitting the vaccine standard in healthcare settings to take effect. In a second decision, the Supreme Court halted OSHA’s standard. OSHA’s standard is critical for workers & supported by the nation’s medical community. We’ll continue to fight for the health & safety of all Americans amid COVID-19. Our full statement is available here.

THE LATEST: In a brief filed on December 30, 2021 to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 16 associations representing medical professionals, patients, and public health, we urged the Court to deny requests to block OSHA’s federal vaccinate or test policy.  On December 21, 2021, on behalf of 16 medical professional and patient organizations, we filed two amicus briefs in the Supreme Court of the United States urging the Court to issue a stay pending appeal of the injunctions entered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit against the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services  interim final rule requiring healthcare worker vaccinations.

Just days before, on December 17, 2021 – in a win for workers and public health – the Sixth Circuit dissolved the stay, allowing enforcement of OSHA’s federal vaccination or test policy. In a brief filed on November 23, 2021, the AMA, represented by Democracy Forward, urged the court to allow the enforcement of this policy.

BACKGROUND

“Effective policies that require widespread vaccination must be preserved. The health and safety of U.S. workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it.” 

American Medical Association, November 11, 2021

COVID-19 continues to pose a grave danger to workers and a significant risk to patient and public health. COVID-19 is highly transmissible; over 50 percent of the spread of the virus may be from individuals who have no symptoms at the time of transmission.

  • Workplace transmission has been a major factor in the spread of COVID-19. Outbreaks have occurred among workers in many industries, including sales, service, education, construction, transportation, and prison. Some reports have shown that from the start of the pandemic until September nearly 60,000 slaughterhouse workers at the major firms have contracted the coronavirus.
  • Workplace transmission is also a significant risk to patient safety and protection. In medical facilities, for example, unvaccinated staff can pose direct and indirect risks to patient safety and protection through the spread of COVID-19. Some patients may delay needed care if staff are not vaccinated.

“The statistics on COVID-19 vaccine efficacy speak for themselves. No other measure has been shown to reduce the risk of infection, hospitalization, and death to the degree that vaccination does.”

American Medical Association, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals-BST Holdings v. OSHA, Nov. 11, 2021

Widespread vaccination is the most effective way to protect workers from COVID-19. History has shown that vaccine policies are critical to achieving the degree of vaccination necessary to curb or eradicate infectious disease. The more workers who get vaccinated, the safer workplaces become.

The federal government has taken action to protect workers, patients, and the public health from the spread of COVID-19. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an emergency temporary standard that would require employers with 100 or more employees to develop, implement and enforce a policy requiring workers to be vaccinated or wear a mask and undergo regular COVID-19 testing. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has also required that health care workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid be fully vaccinated. An Executive Order also requires federal contractors not eligible for certain exemptions to be vaccinated and in compliance with CDC guidance for masking and physical distancing while working on or in connection with a federal government contract. These federal actions have been supported by a broad coalition of medical and public health experts.

“Although misinformation about the efficacy of vaccines abounds, the science is clear: no arguments against the need for vaccination are medically valid, other than instances where an individual has a medical contraindication.” 

American Medical Association, Southern District of Texas-State of Texas v. Biden, Nov. 22, 2021

Notwithstanding the need to protect workers, patients, and the public from COVID-19, the federal government’s public health measures have each been challenged in court. We’re representing leading medical organizations on briefs in courts throughout the country to ensure that the views of the nation’s leading medical professionals and patient advocates are available to the court. These briefs outline the reasons why—for worker health, patient health, and public health—courts should uphold these policies in the face of legal threats.

  • In four briefs filed in three federal courts, the American Medical Association, represented by Democracy Forward, has urged courts to deny challenges to OSHA’s workplace standard, which will protect the public from COVID-19. AMA’s briefs explain that “a stay of that standard would cause grave, severe, and irreparable harm to the public interest.” 
  • In three briefs filed in federal court in Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia, the AMA has also urged federal courts to deny challenges to halt the Executive Order requiring vaccines or testing for federal contractor employees. AMA’s briefs explain that “Requiring federal contractor employees to be vaccinated is not just an efficiency-promoting practice; it is life-saving.” In briefs filed in the Sixth and Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, 15 medical and patient organizations, argued the existing injunction would “severely and irreparably harm workers” and urged the court to preserve the federal vaccination policy.
  • In a brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 12 medical organizations urged the court to preserve CMS’s vaccination policy for healthcare workers. This brief, signed by the American College of Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, American Geriatrics Society, American Medical Women’s Association, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Society for Echocardiography, American Society of Hematology, American Thoracic Society, and American Lung Association explains that maintaining the injunction against this interim final rule would “severely and irreparably harm patients and undermine the public interest.”