Image copyright Getty Images Image caption In 2016, 10 states sued, alleging the new rules violated a longstanding federal legal right
More than 10 states have sued the US government to block its plan to compel private companies to cover certain vaccines, which a U.S. district judge has previously blocked.
The US Department of Health and Human Services argued in March that the new regulations do not violate state law.
One of the plaintiffs is the US attorney general of West Virginia, Patrick Morrisey.
At least nine other states, including California, said the lawsuit in a federal court in Washington DC was “not frivolous”.
It follows a previous lawsuit filed in 2016 by 10 states – led by New York – accusing the DHS of violating states’ rights by imposing new requirements on private companies that do business with the US government.
“The government, by refusing to provide this information, is attempting to turn the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) into a vaccine censor, rather than a health department,” the states argued in their lawsuit.
The new rules made public in November 2017 require some vaccine providers to cover the cost of certain vaccines and called for more studies of side effects.
Critics of the new regulation argue that it misleads people into believing that certain vaccines are dangerous or ineffective.
“These waivers eliminate benefits to individuals who may be unable to afford vaccines, and foster another generation of children born sick or even dead because of vaccine injuries,” said Attorney General Morrisey in a statement in December.
On Friday, his office said more than one million waivers – called “personal belief exemptions” or PBEs – were obtained in 2016 in West Virginia alone.
In states like California, these waivers have grown to almost 1,000,000 a year, according to the suit.
“Government bureaucrats can choose not to cooperate with the CDC, but not health care providers, consumers, parents or workers,” said West Virginia state senator Allen Craven, also a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit.
He also led a legislative push to stop the expansion of PBEs and strengthened Senate Bill 90 to include provisions that protect patients’ access to vaccines.
The states also filed a separate, separate complaint in West Virginia court on Friday.
If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, does not change its position, “corporate responsibility cannot deter the federal government from imposing conditions that are contrary to medical knowledge and evidence”.
Last week, the US Department of Justice said it was reviewing the lawsuit.
“The Department continues to believe that the rule is consistent with the Constitution, consistent with longstanding Department of Justice policy, and consistent with the wishes of the Congress,” said spokesman Phillip Blando.