ATLANTA — ATLANTA – Now that a COVID-19 vaccine is available to the public, it’s possible that your employer may require you to get one.
In most cases, your boss can require you to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
“The general answer is yes, employers can require it,” Dr. Fazal Khan, Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law stated.
Federal and state laws have quite a bit to say on the topic, including the situations where you may be exempt.
First, there are the jobs where you’re more likely to encounter a boss requiring you to face a needle.
“If you work in a hospital setting, nursing home, long term care setting, that seems absolutely essential to get employees vaccinated,” explained Dr. Khan.
If an employer decides to require a vaccine, an employee can legally opt out if they have a valid medical excuse.
“So long as it doesn’t create an undue burden on the employer,” said Khan.
Sincerely held religious beliefs are another exemption.
“You have to make a reasonable attempt at accommodation,” said Khan. “If you’re in an office environment where you can do the job remotely, that would be a reasonable accommodation.”
In the past, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has recommended encouraging employees outside of the healthcare field to get the flu vaccine rather than requiring it.
There’s always a risk an employee could have a bad reaction.
“There’s potential for liability and a worker’s comp claim,” said Khan. “I imagine that employers would encourage you to get the vaccine.”
A recent Pew Research survey finds 49% of U.S. adults have concerns about the vaccine. Employers have that to consider as they continue to navigate this pandemic.