TRENTON – A New Jersey appeals court rejected a lawsuit Friday from law enforcement unions challenging Gov. Phil Murphy's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The Appellate Division ruling dismissed the suit brought by the New Jersey State Policeman's Benevolent Association and the New Jersey Superior Officers Association, whose representation includes corrections officers. The unions sought to challenge Murphy's January order that health care workers and others who work in "congregate" settings -- including correctional officers -- get inoculated. The order includes boosters, too.

Murphy had earlier required either a vaccination or regular testing but changed the requirement to reflect a federal mandate for health care workers to be vaccinated. The U.S. Supreme Court has permitted that requirement to go ahead.

Pat Colligan, the PBA president, said in a statement that members are "extremely disappointed" and are reviewing their options.
The court ruled that the governor was fully empowered to enact the requirement.

"In the final analysis, there are times when individual self-interests like those asserted by appellants must take a backseat to the responsibilities we all have toward each other, a point President Kennedy far more eloquently expressed in his 1961 inaugural address," the court wrote.

Under Murphy's order workers subject to the requirement who were unvaccinated had until Jan. 27 to get their first shot and until Feb. 28 for the second. Workers in nursing homes and other community living facilities, including prisons, will have until Feb. 28 to get their first shot and until March 30 for the second, Murphy has said.