Appeals court blocks California vaccine mandate for prison workers

A federal appeals court on Friday issued a temporary stay of a coronavirus vaccine mandate for prison workers. 

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the stay, postponing the Jan. 12 deadline to get thousands of prison workers vaccinated until at least March, The Associated Press reported

The move by the appeals court came after a request for a stay of a September ruling by a lower court pending an appeal. The appeals court also moved up opening briefs to Dec. 13, according to AP. 

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California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation statistics show that at least 240 prisoners have died from COVID-19 and more than half the state prison population has been infected, according to the AP.

The move from the appeals court blocked an earlier decision from U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar that required prison employees to get the vaccine. Tigar's decision would also require prisoners to get either the vaccine or a medical or religious exemption in order to do work outside the prison or get in-prison visits from family.

Both Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomThe Hill's Morning Report: Biden takes it on the chin Newsom denies parole for RFK assassin Why California needs a Latino state supreme court justice MORE (D) and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association opposed the prison worker mandate, the AP noted. 

Don Specter, director of the nonprofit Prison Law Office, said the court’s decision “puts both the prison staff and the incarcerated population at greater risk of infection,” according to AP. 

The Hill has reached out to the Prison Law Office, Newsom’s office and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association for comment.