(Reuters) – The Biden administration on Thursday asked the US Supreme Court to overturn rulings from two lower courts that put the president's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare professionals on ice, saying the shots were crucial before an expected winter hit in the case.
Both decisions were issued as part of legal challenges to President Joe Biden's mandate for healthcare professionals treating Medicare and Medicaid patients. The rule initially required that more than 2 million unvaccinated healthcare professionals be vaccinated by December 6.
"The exceptionally urgent need to reduce the risk of covid-19 exposure to Medicare and Medicaid patients in view of the expected increase in infections during the winter.
The mandate is currently blocked in 24 states ̵
The 5th Circuit said the Biden administration had not shown that it was likely to prove during litigation that it had the power to enforce the rule.
In November, the 5th Circuit blocked the administration's mandate for vaccination or workplace testing for companies with at least 100 employees.
The rule, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is reviewed by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
On Wednesday, the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati sided with the Biden administration and agreed to first try the case before a panel of three judges rather than all 16 active judges on the court.