A federal court in Ohio entered a nationwide preliminary injunction Thursday prohibiting the U.S. Air Force from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate against religious objectors.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio’s order in Doster v. Kendall remains effective until a full trial is held. It follows the temporary restraining order the court issued July 14 when it granted class action status for all Air Force plaintiffs nationwide. Class status protects all active-duty Airmen, active reserve, National Guard, Air Force Academy cadets, the Air Force Reserve Command, and Space Force members.
In their 16-page filing, attorneys for the government argued blocking the Air Force from punishing the unvaccinated “would interfere with ongoing legal proceedings and would otherwise be improper, particularly in light of significant new developments.”
Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, director of staff for the Air Force’s headquarters, said in a declaration that the unvaccinated were “at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and substantially more likely to develop severe symptoms resulting in hospitalization or death.” Exempting those with religious exemptions “would pose a significant and unprecedented risk to military readiness and our ability to defend the nation.”