Posted May 3, 2021
As of April 2021, 235 million Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine and 98 million have been fully vaccinated. While vaccinations are now open to everyone over the age of 16, the growing concern has been that as more Americans become vaccinated, there will be less urgency for others to go forward with vaccinations. But don’t Americans have the right to decline it? The answer is, not really.
Right To Refuse COVID-19 Vaccine Not an Absolute
The easing of social distancing restrictions has begun as business locations reopen their doors and some sense of normalcy begins to return to schools, stadiums, and entertainment venues. While there have not been nationwide mandates about showing one’s vaccination status to allow entry into establishments, the idea of requiring a vaccine to return to work or school has been pushed and is currently being utilized in various industries.
Right now, the law stands that an employer can make a vaccination a requirement should you want to continue working there. However, there are exemptions. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) confirmed that a COVID-19 vaccination requirement would not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But the employer must allow an exemption to those based on a disability that would inhibit an employee from receiving the vaccine or for an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs that prohibit being vaccinated.
What has sparked debate though, is the line being drawn on vaccine mandates. While flu shots are not required for school-aged students, vaccines against measles, mumps, and rubella are. Will COVID-19 be the next?
There has been a long-held belief that no one has the right to get someone else sick because of their carelessness or own personal choice. But with the newness of the COVID-19 vaccine, it is unlikely we will see nationwide vaccine mandates. Instead, the decision will be up to the private business owners to decide how they conduct internal affairs and customer protocol.
Vaccines Must Receive Final Approval Before Federally Funded Jobs Can Set Requirements
While some industries more than others are seeing a push towards employee mandates to receive the vaccine, specifically healthcare, education, government facilities, etc., the law stands that these institutions cannot legally require a vaccine until it reaches final approval. Until then, people employed in these sectors have a right to refuse.
It appears that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could receive approval by autumn, however, as numerous variants of the virus emerge and a need for vaccine boosters becomes available, this might keep the COVID-19 vaccines under “emergency-use” rules.
For now, employees who are being encouraged or forced to get the COVID-19 vaccine need to consider their employment policies. Should the mandate be outside the realm of the employers’ control, they may be able to fight the policy.
Have Questions About the Legitimacy of an Employment Policy?
If your employer is mandating the COVID-19 vaccine and it is not within your employer’s rights, contact us. We have employee rights attorneys across the country waiting to take your case.
Posted in COVID-19.