The issue seems destined to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The status of the federal vaccine mandate for healthcare workers became more muddled on Wednesday, with an appeals court reinstating the mandate for 26 states.
The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a prior court decision to issue an injunction on the mandate should apply only to the states that had been part of the lawsuit in question.
The states covered by the injunction are the 14 plaintiffs in the case, while a separate injunction pertains to 10 states in a different case.
In its ruling, the three-judge panel (including two appointees by President Barack Obama and one by President George W. Bush) indicated the Supreme Court likely will be called on to issue a comprehensive national ruling.
Pending further rulings, health systems with facilities in multiple states now may be faced with implementing the mandate at some sites and considering whether to make vaccination voluntary at others. As of Wednesday afternoon, CMS had not confirmed whether it would seek to enforce the mandate where doing so is permitted.
Injunctions on the mandate remain in place in the following states: