Nov 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Appeals court blocks order requiring COVID vaccines for California prisons

An aerial view San Quentin State Prison on July 8, 2020. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked an order requiring all California prison workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or have a religious or medical exemption.

Driving the news: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday approved a request for a stay of the order pending appeal. The vaccination mandate was set to go into effect by Jan. 12, but the stay blocks enforcement until March, AP reports.

The big picture: U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar had rejected the original stay request for the vaccine mandate, which impacts prison workers, inmates who want in-person visits or those who work outside prisons.

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined the state's prison agency in appealing the order.
  • The California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the corrections officers' labor union in California, warned that the vaccine mandate could create staffing shortages, per AP.
  • Don Specter, director of the nonprofit Prison Law Office, told AP that the stay "puts both the prison staff and the incarcerated population at greater risk of infection."
  • Approximately 50,640 California state prisoners have had COVID-19 since the pandemic began and at least 242 have died, according to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

What to watch: The appeals court order sets Dec. 13 as the deadline for opening briefs.

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