As a pair of COVID-19 vaccines approach their expected emergency approval in the next couple of weeks, many are wondering just how much of a choice they will have in getting the vaccine. There has been speculation that companies may require their employees to get the vaccine or risk being terminated.
Technically, a vaccine can’t be mandated until it receives full FDA approval. The vaccines, as they will be released here soon, still fall under the emergency use authorization. It will likely be months before the FDA would grant full approval.
Legal experts have cautioned companies to wait on making the vaccine a requirement at first but have also recommended that businesses offer incentives to those who get immunized. Incentives could vary from added vacation time, additional pay or cash bonuses.
There are a couple of exceptions when it comes to mandating vaccines in the workplace. Unionized workforces would need to collectively bargain an agreement to mandate a vaccine, and the Americans with Disabilities Act allows workers to apply for exemptions for medical reasons and/or religious beliefs.
Recent polling suggests around 60% of Americans would voluntarily get the vaccine. According to experts, more than 70% of the population would need to be vaccinated or have natural antibodies to achieve herd immunity which would contain and suppress the virus.
One other thing to note, if an employer does mandate the vaccine, the company is actually not liable if the employee develops side effects from the immunization.