Faced with a new wave of coronavirus infections, Austria and
1. What happens to those who violate a mandate?
Mandates don’t mean forced vaccinations, but rather penalties or denial of services for those who don’t get the shots. Indonesia punishes refusers by levying fines and denying them government assistance. Austria planned to
2. What are the rules that fall short of mandates?
France’s national assembly
3. Are vaccine requirements something new?
No. According to a study in the journal Vaccine published in October 2020, before Covid vaccines became available, more than 100 of the 193 members of the
4. What happened with the Covid vaccine mandate for U.S. employers?
5. Can U.S. employers require the shots on their own?
They can and they have -- public and private employers both. Most nonunion companies have relatively wide scope to create such requirements largely because employment relationships are presumed to be “at-will” in nearly every U.S. state. Companies can fire at-will workers for any legal reason, which could include refusal to comply with a vaccine mandate. In addition, employers have a legal duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace. Even before the pandemic, many health-care facilities required workers to get inoculated against certain diseases, sometimes in response to state provisions. Employer mandates of Covid vaccines picked up after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the first time gave full approval in August to such a vaccine -- the one made by
6. What objections can U.S. workers raise?
- The Americans with Disabilities Act allows a worker to request an exemption from a vaccine mandate if she has a disability that’s covered by the law. In such a case, the employer must communicate with the worker to determine whether an exemption is a reasonable accommodation given her disability and job responsibilities -- and isn’t an undue burden for the employer. Failing to engage in that process or provide a reasonable accommodation could be grounds for a lawsuit. A worker with a health condition that compromises her immune system has a good chance of prevailing on a claim if she has a doctor’s advice that she should avoid a vaccine. An employer would need to show that allowing a worker to remain unvaccinated would cause an undue burden or pose a direct threat in the workplace, which would be difficult to do if there are alternatives available such as working from home or moving to an area segregated from coworkers. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces federal laws against job discrimination, has said that ADA protections apply to Covid vaccines.
- Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination based on religion, giving workers the right to seek an exception to a vaccination mandate based on religious beliefs. The
EEOCdefines religion beyond membership in a church or belief in God. Religion for the purposes of federal anti-discrimination law covers strongly and sincerely held moral or ethical beliefs, according to the agency. But employers can deny religious accommodations if they would create an undue burden.
7. Are vaccine mandates effective?
There are lively debates among public health authorities and academics about the efficacy of vaccine mandates. Supporters cite studies showing that stricter rules on inoculating schoolchildren lead to lower rates of vaccine-preventable diseases. Most of the data, however, relates to children, whereas a Covid vaccination campaign needs to reach a significant portion of adults. Some health specialists argue that mandates -- especially if they’re imposed by governments -- will boost resistance to taking vaccines and provide ammunition for anti-vaccine activists at the political fringe. On the other hand, there’s some evidence that employer mandates work. After
The Reference Shelf
- Related QuickTakes on the
omicron variant, endemic Covid, and Covid treatments.
- A Bloomberg Law
primeron Biden’s vaccine mandate.
- A Congressional Research Service report on potential constraints on employer mandates for Covid vaccines.
- Bloomberg Opinion columnist Ramesh Ponnuru argues Biden’s vaccine mandate
was dishonest, while columnist Stephen L. Carter argues that vaccine mandates and liberty can coexist.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website on state vaccination laws.
- An article in the Journal of the
American Medical Associationdiscusses the criteria for deciding when vaccine mandates for schoolchildren are appropriate.
--With assistance from
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jay-Anne Casuga, Lisa Beyer
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