Governor Mills and Attorney General Frey applaud First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on Maine healthcare worker vaccination requirement


Governor Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey have made the following statements in response to the First Circuit Court of Appeal decision (PDF) upholding the Maine District Court decision in Doe v. Mills:

“Vaccinations are the best tool we have to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people of Maine and to curb this pandemic. Healthcare workers play a vital role in protecting the health of the people of Maine, and it is imperative that hospitals and other facilities take all necessary precautions to protect workers and their patients from this dangerous virus, especially considering given the highly transmissible Delta variant. Anyone in the care of a health worker has the right to expect – just like their family – to receive high quality and safe care from fully immunized staff ”, Governor Janet Mills said. “This rule protects healthcare workers, their patients and our healthcare capacity in the face of this deadly virus. Just as vaccination conquered smallpox and vaccination conquered polio, vaccination is the way to conquer COVID-19. As Pope Francis said, getting vaccinated is an “act of love”.

“As held by the First Circuit, the Maine rule requiring certain healthcare establishments to ensure their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 does not violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment,” said Attorney General Aaron M. Frey. “We appreciate the Court’s analysis and its eagerness to deal with the appeal. We will continue to vigorously defend the rule against all legal challenges. “

Affirming the decision, Circuit 1 wrote: “Few interests are more compelling than protecting public health from a deadly virus. By enacting the rule at issue here, Maine acted in response to this virus to protect its healthcare system by achieving its three goals of preventing overloading of its healthcare system, protecting those most vulnerable to the virus and an overwhelmed health care system, and protect the health of all residents of Maine. By focusing the vaccination requirement on healthcare workers, Maine has taken steps to increase the likelihood of protecting the health of its population, especially those who are most likely to experience serious consequences if they contract COVID. -19 or are denied other necessary medical treatment by an overwhelmed health system.

“Maine’s interest in protecting its residents is paramount. While we do not curtail the appellants’ freedom of conscience, absent a constitutional or statutory violation we cannot find any error in the district court’s conclusion that the rule promotes sound public interests and that a injunction would not serve the public interest, ”the court concluded.

The vaccine needs of Maine healthcare workers are supported by the Maine Hospital Association, Maine Health Care Association, MaineHealth, Northern Light Health, and MaineGeneral Health. Additionally, the Biden administration has said it will require all healthcare workers to be vaccinated, with no alternatives for testing.

Under the rule, COVID-19 vaccination rates rose rapidly in September among healthcare workers in Maine, further protecting these frontline workers, the health and lives of those in their care, and safeguarding Maine’s health care capacity.

During the most recent reference period, between September 1 and September 30, rates exceeded 90% for hospitals (91.6%) and day surgery centers (92%). September rates increased by more than 10 percentage points in EHPAD (88.1%) and EHPAD (83.2%). Rates have also increased significantly in nursing homes (85.8%).

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