With the back-and-forth legal challenges over the Biden administration’s federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, it’s easy to see how Americans might be confused regarding the rules they are expected to obey.

On Friday, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the U.S. government can enforce a vaccine or testing mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees. It was a rare win for the Biden administration.

However, the case is expected to reach the Supreme Court, where it will be decided if a vaccine or testing mandate is a federal, state, personal or business concern. The government has extended the deadline for businesses to comply with the mandate.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccine mandates apply to private businesses with 100 or more workers, federal employees and healthcare workers. The military has started discharging those who do not follow the mandate for federal employees.

However, a federal judge put a hold on the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers as of Nov. 30, allowing some hospitals to loosen their mandates in favor of employing more people amid a labor shortage.

Many hospitals have kept their vaccine or testing mandates for workers. It is expected that the hold on vaccine mandates for healthcare workers will face a challenge from the Biden administration.

The decision is expected to ignite a wave of new vaccine mandates in the US Photo: AFP / Frederic J. BROWN

There are also legal questions on what fully vaccinated means now and what it will mean in the future, as full protection against the Omicron variant may requires a third dose. However, the Labor Department said Sunday that while a third dose is not included in the definition of fully vaccinated, that could vary by state or locale.

Much of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated by the Labor Department’s definition, 61.4% according to CDC data. However, the Omicron variant is much more contagious regardless of vaccination status, and there are many breakthrough cases even with a booster shot.

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