New York is discontinuing its controversial COVID-19 vaccination requirement for workers at hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities.

The state Health Department announced it has begun the process of repealing the vaccination mandate which must be approved by the state Public Health and Health Planning Council.

In the meantime, the department said it has stopped enforcing the mandate.

“Throughout the public health emergency, this vaccine requirement served as a critical public health tool, helping to protect both health care workers and the patients under their care,” the department said in a news release.

About 10,555 healthcare workers statewide, including some in Syracuse, were fired for refusing to get COVID shots, according to data previously released by Hochul’s office.

The state refused to allow religious exemptions to the vaccination mandate.

On May 1 the federal government announced it would start ending COVID vaccination requirements for healthcare facilities certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The state said facilities can implement their own internal policies regarding COVID-19 vaccination.

The state’s COVID vaccine mandate for health workers was struck down in a June 13 decision by state Supreme Court Judge Gerard Neri of Syracuse.

He said in his decision Gov. Kathleen Hochul and the state Health department overstepped their authority by making permanent the mandate meant to limit transmission of COVID in hospitals and healthcare facilities.

The state Health Department appealed Neri’s decision and the state Supreme Court Appellate Division granted a temporary stay.

Neri’s Jan. 13 decision came in a case brought by a group of medical professionals who lost or were at risk of losing their jobs because of the vaccine mandate.

The mandate was enacted in August 2021 on an emergency basis by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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