BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A federal judge has temporarily blocked the state of New York from forcing medical workers to be vaccinated.
This comes after a group of health care workers sued, claiming their constitutional rights were violated because the state's mandate did not allow for religious exemptions.
The judge in Utica gave the state until September 22 to respond to the lawsuit.
The state issued the order requiring at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes by September 27.
Members of the Constitutional Coalition of Western NY Medical and Freedom Western NY (recently created in response to the vaccine mandates) are getting ready to gather protesters right in front of ECMC to protest against the vaccine mandates put in place for healthcare workers. pic.twitter.com/rpfv356J6o— Pheben Kassahun (@PhebenKassahun) September 14, 2021
Concerns in the medical community continued into the afternoon, outside the Erie County Medical Center (ECMC), where a 'Medical Freedom Rally' took place, Tuesday.
The protest began at 3:30 p.m. and ran until 5:30 p.m.
More than three dozen protesters could be seen holding signs that read things like, "Honk for medical freedom" and Freedom of Choice: Americans fought and died for it."
The crowd was a mixture of health care workers, accompanied by members of the "Constitutional Coalition of Western New York" and the "Medical Freedom Western New York", which is a Facebook group that was created in light of the vaccine mandate for health care workers.
Nurses who spoke with 7ABC said they were fighting for their freedom to choose, and standing outside of ECMC for the health care workers who do not have a voice, including those who have already been vaccinated but felt like they were forced.
The nurses added that they are devastated after working as essential workers during the thick of the pandemic and now feel disposable, after sacrificing so much of their time and well-being last year to care for people during an unprecedented time.
One of the few nurses who were brave enough to come outside of the hospital to protest was Sarah Dytschkowskyj and her sister, Jessica Dytschkowskyj, who are both licensed practical nurses at Terrace View Long Term Care.
"If we're about prevention and protection, the best form for that is to make sure the people who are infected aren't spreading it and how do we do that? Through testing. I don't think this mandate is about protecting people. It's about controlling, and to me, the right to autonomy to make an informed-educated consent, is the bottom of the line," Sarah Dytschkowskyj told Pheben Kassahun.
The nurses added they are concerned about those who are still lying in hospital beds awaiting for care during a time where healthcare workers could face termination.