Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Sunday that he is concerned about the potential dangers to public health if the administration's vaccine mandate for businesses is blocked for good.
"I think it would be a setback for public health. What we know very clearly is that when people get vaccinated – and the more people who get vaccinated the quicker we're able to bring this pandemic to an end — the more lives that we can ultimately save," Murthy told host Chris Wallace during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."
He added that vaccine requirements "work remarkably well," and that some businesses will still require their employees to be vaccinated even without a federal mandate.
This comes after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a stay on the vaccine mandate, which would have been enforced through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA's order would have mandated that all employers with at least 100 employees require their workers to get vaccinated or undergo weekly coronavirus testing.
"The mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers)," Circuit Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt wrote in his opinion.
He added that the public interest is served by "maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions - even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials."
Murthy also addressed the controversy surrounding Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who previously said he was "immunized" before admitting that he was not vaccinated once he tested positive for COVID-19. The surgeon general said that, while freedom is "extraordinarily important," Rodgers' vaccination status affects everyone around him.
"[K]eep in mind we are a community of 300 million people. We are not sole individuals entirely on our own," Murthy said. "In any community, sometimes our decisions do affect other people. It’s why, Chris, we have speed limits on highways because we know our decision about how fast we drive affects the safety of others. When it comes to getting vaccinated, we know the people who are unvaccinated are at high risk of getting sick and spreading it to others."