Opponents of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers in Maine filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after being dealt another legal defeat on Friday.

The appeal was filed hours after the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston denied a request to stop the mandate from going into effect.

Nine unnamed workers sued the state to demand such an exemption. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Jon Levy denied their motion for a preliminary injunction, which would have temporarily blocked the mandate from taking effect while the lawsuit proceeds.

A three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit followed with a one-sentence statement on Friday.

The Supreme Court previously has rejected challenges of vaccine requirements for New York City teachers and Indiana University staff and students.

The vaccine mandate in Maine, announced by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, requires health care workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus or risk losing their jobs. The state begins enforcing the mandate on Oct. 29.

The Liberty Counsel, which filed the lawsuit in federal court in Maine in August, claimed to be representing more than 2,000 health care workers who don’t want to be forced to be vaccinated.

Dozens of health care workers have opted to quit, and Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston already curtailed some admissions because of an “acute shortage” of nurses.

But most health workers have been vaccinated, and state agencies vowed to work with individual hospitals and nursing homes to address individual workforce issues.


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