Want Your Job Back? Can Employers Require Employees to Take the Covid-19 Vaccine?

On December 8, the Food and Drug Administration released papers appearing to say that Pfizer’s vaccine showed “a favorable safety profile, with no specific safety concerns.”

So far, however, neither the EEOC nor the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have provided guidance to employers on COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

In the past, employers have been allowed to require safety measures such as vaccines, with exceptions for some employees.

For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission previously issued guidance that employers can require flu vaccines, as long as employees can seek an exemption for medical reasons under the Americans with Disabilities Act or for religious reasons under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Employers would also need to look to state law and any collective bargaining agreements (that is, union agreements), although most employees in the U.S. are not covered by union agreements.

Some people have stated they do not want the Covid-19 vaccine because it is being distributed under an “emergency use authorization” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, rather than a full licensure. Some employees worry the new vaccine could give them side effects. The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act or PREP Act has a fund to compensate people who get injured from a vaccine. Furthermore, workers’ compensation laws would likely cover employee injuries in certain states.

Image Source: bbc.com

In fact, the United Kingdom will dispense 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the coming weeks, starting with those over 80 and some health and care staff. Up to four million more UK citizens are expected to be vaccinated by the end of the month.

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, mass vaccinations in the United States could begin as soon as the third or fourth week of December.

What do you think? Will you want the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible or will you wait? What if your employer required it to return to work?

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