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Tennessee suspends all COVID-19 exemption requests after courts block federal vaccine mandates

Two courts issued preliminary injunctions, temporarily blocking federal vaccine mandates for healthcare workers across the U.S. and federal contractors in TN.

TENNESSEE, USA — UPDATE (12/1/21): Following two district court rulings that have blocked certain federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the Tennessee Comptroller's Office announced it will be suspending all exemptions to Tennessee's COVID-19 laws, including dozens of exemptions that had been issued in November. 

The comptroller's office said the decision came after two district courts issued preliminary injunctions to block certain federal vaccine provisions: one ruling issued by a Louisiana judge that blocked the federal vaccine mandate across the U.S. for healthcare workers in facilities that receive government funding, and another issued by a Kentucky judge that blocked the vaccine mandate in Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio for federally funded contractors.

The comptroller's office said it had issued 69 exemptions to organizations in the state that were able to prove their federal funding would have been impacted by regulations under the state's recently signed COVID-19 omnibus law. That law was passed during a COVID-19 special session in November, which blocks various vaccine and mask rules from being implemented in government and private workplaces. 

Some of the organizations granted exemptions included the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Lab's operator UT-Battelle.

The comptroller's office said it is still accepting exemption requests online should the court rulings be overturned, but said it will not grant any unless the court injunctions are lifted.

"It is important to note that these exemptions may be reinstated if the injunctions are lifted, and it is legally permissible," the comptroller's office said.

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