NYC schools' vaccine mandate allowed for now

A U.S. Supreme Court justice has refused to block New York City's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public school employees.

Some 148,000 workers in the United States' largest school district were ordered to be at least partially vaccinated by end of day Friday or face unpaid leave until next September.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Friday rejected a request by four teachers and teaching assistants who sought to halt the vaccine mandate while their lawsuit against it continues in lower courts.

Sotomayor handled the case as the justice assigned to deal with emergency requests in the region covering New York, similar to Justice Amy Coney Barrett denying Indiana University students' bid to block their vaccine mandate back in August.

The New York teachers had alleged the vaccine mandate was unconstitutional, with one expressing concern about vaccine safety, while the others argued for exemption due to prior COVID-19 infection.

Vaccine mandates have become a flashpoint in U.S. politics, with some employers embracing them, while opponents say their constitutional rights are being violated.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said in a TV interview on Friday that 90% of the city's education employees were already vaccinated with at least one dose, including 93% of teachers and 98% of school principals.

Around 1 million students attend the city's public schools.

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