The country’s first Covid vaccine could be authorized for emergency use as soon as today. If Pfizer gets the green light, distribution is set to begin next week.
Roughly six in ten Americans say they would get a vaccine, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. Although this exceeds the figure from two months ago, to achieve herd immunity experts opine that about 70% of the population would need to be vaccinated or have antibodies.
Under the law, an employer can generally require its workers to be vaccinated and can also fire an employee who refuses to do so. Some notable exceptions, however, exist to the general rule. For example, if a work force is unionized, the collective bargaining agreement may require negotiating with the union before an employer can implement a vaccine requirement.
Anti-discrimination laws also provide some protections to workers that are disabled. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA), workers who do not want to be vaccinated for specific medical reasons are eligible to request an exemption. In this case, an employer may need to provide reasonable accommodation, such as allowing the employee to work remotely.
Another exception exists under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under Title VII, if taking the vaccine would conflict with a sincerely held religious belief, a worker may be able to opt out of a vaccine requirement.
The initial FDA approval is expected to be an “emergency use authorization,” as opposed to full approval. The law is unclear as to whether one can mandate vaccinations based on an emergency use authorization. As such, employers may need to wait until the FDA completes the entire approval process before putting vaccination requirement protocols in place.