Washington

Federal judge orders COVID-19 vaccination as bail condition


A federal judge has ordered a woman accused of drug dealing to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of her bail.

Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered Elouisa Pimental to receive her first vaccine shot before her release and a second vaccine shot during the following month.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the danger to public health of choosing to forego vaccinations that protect not only the vaccinated individuals but the community as a whole, a condition of bail that is reasonably necessary to assure the safety of any other person and the community is to require that the defendant receive a COVID-19 vaccination before being released,” wrote Judge Rakoff in a three-page order. “COVID-19 vaccines are freely available in federal jails, and vaccination is vital to protect our communities and the most vulnerable among us from the worst risks of COVID-19.” 

Judge Rakoff, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton, acknowledged that the vaccine requirement was an “unusual” bail condition but wrote that he thought it seemed “obvious” he had the authority to do so.

The judge noted that unvaccinated, incarcerated defendants also pose a health risk to their fellow inmates, but he wrote that he did not have the authority to second-guess the Bureau of Prisons. 

Pressure by public and private actors to increase vaccination rates has ramped up in recent days. On Wednesday, the Biden administration said it would require nursing homes to mandate their workers get vaccinated as a condition of receiving Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement. 

The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders announced this week it is requiring fans at all home games to show proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of attending games without wearing a mask. The Raiders organization said it was the first NFL franchise to have a “vaccine/no mask policy.”

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