Justice denies request to block vaccine mandate involving new Helena oncologist

Phil Drake

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on Monday denied a request from a group that includes a newly hired oncologist at St. Peter’s Health to block the vaccine mandate being implemented by her previous employer, pending an appeal to a lower court.

The justice denied the application for injunctive relief filed by “Together Employees” against Mass General Brigham Inc., a Massachusetts health care system, the court stated in a filing posted online. No explanation was posted on the court’s website.

Dr. Elizabeth Bigger, an oncologist and hematologist hired recently by St. Peter’s Health, is among the eight representatives of Together Employees named in the emergency application writ of injunction pending appeal filed Nov. 23 with the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Nov. 4, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued an interim rule requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings, including hospitals, that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The proposed rule was effective Nov. 5. Under the regulation, all eligible workers must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.

Mass General set a Nov. 5 deadline to take a COVID-19 vaccine, the Nov. 23 application notes. It states that some applicants have since been fired from the hospital.

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