A D.C. Superior Court Judge ruled on Wednesday that the District’s mandate that police officers must be vaccinated against the coronavirus is valid and legal.
Judge Joan Zeldon ruled against the request for a temporary restraining order from the Fraternal Order of Police, the Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee, the D.C. Police Union and four officers, writing the plaintiffs’ request didn’t meet the court’s standards for such orders. An excerpt of her ruling said police would not be “in danger of suffering irreparable harm” if a temporary restraining order weren’t granted.
She noted in her ruling that millions of people have been given coronavirus vaccines.
“Plaintiffs argue that vaccine is an irreversible medical procedure with a risk of serious medical consequence, and it violates their right to bodily integrity and personal autonomy,” wrote Zeldon, WTOP reported. “These assertions, though deeply felt by officers who are resisting vaccination, are speculative.”
The judge pointed out that under D.C.’s mandate, officers could not be disciplined for failing to comply until March 15, and firing of an employee must be done in phases, starting with “verbal counseling.” The judge also wrote the city’s interest in protecting the health and safety of its employees and the public from the virus “outweighs the potential harms plaintiffs allege they face.”
There is an administrative challenge to the vaccine policy before the Public Employee Relations Board, which handles disputes between District agencies and employees. D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine responded to the decision on Twitter.
“Great news: My office successfully defended against an attempt to block the District’s requirement that all Metropolitan Police Officers get COVID-19 vaccines and timely booster shots,” tweeted Racine, WTOP reported. “This requirement will help keep District residents safe and healthy as the pandemic continues.”