CORONAVIRUS VACCINES

States issue lawsuits against the Biden administration's vaccine mandates

President Biden has made clear that the vaccination effort is the only way to bring the pandemic to an end, but his proposals have faced pushback from the GOP.

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States issue lawsuits against the Biden administration's vaccine mandates
MARIO TAMA AFP

Last Friday a new rule from the Biden administration introduced a future vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more employers, requiring all workers to be vaccinated by 4 January or submit to masking requirements and weekly tests.

However by Saturday a number of states had launched legal challenges to the rule and the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals had granted an emergency stay of the requirement, putting a halt on the measure.

So far 27 states, the majority of them Republican-led, have issued lawsuits against the Biden administration, painting the mandate as an overreach of government authority.

White House urges businesses to implement their own vaccine mandates

In material terms, President Biden’s vaccine mandate, which was not due to come into force until January 2022, has not yet been affected by the legal challenges. However states are looking to establish the boundaries of federal involvement to prevent the mandate coming into effect.

In the meantime, the White House has urged businesses to move forward with the proposals and introduce their own testing and masking measures for unvaccinated employees.

On Monday White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters: “People should not wait… They should continue to move forward and make sure they’re getting their workplace vaccinated.”

The pending vaccine mandate is the focus of several petitions in multiple courts, which will be consolidated into a single challenge using a lottery system. On Monday, Biden’s Justice Department revealed that the lottery is expected to take place around 16 November, with the cases to be heard shortly after. If allowed to stand, the indoor mask-wearing requirement for unvaccinated Americans could come into force as early as 5 December.

Ted Cruz Big Bird’s vaccine propaganda

The Republican opposition to the vaccine push veered into new territory over the weekend when Sen. Ted Cruz took issue with a tweet from an account attributed to Big Bird, the fictional yellow character from children’s television show ‘Sesame Street’.

The tweet reads: "I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing is feeling a little sore, but it'll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy.”

Cruz responded with a tweet of his own, decrying the public health message as: “Government propaganda…for your 5 year old!”

The online spat comes less than a week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine for use in children aged 5-11. The shots will be available in quantities one-third the size of that offered to adults, but have recorded efficacy of more than 90% in clinical trials.

The Twitter response of Cruz, who has himself been vaccinated against covid-19, is one of the innumerable attempts from Republican lawmakers to resist any attempts to encourage people to get the vaccine. Biden himself has made clear that a high vaccine rate is essential to America’s economic recovery and to his agenda as president.