As the feds prepare states to get ready to distribute a potential COVID-19 vaccine in the next few months, firms face a critical decision: Should we require employees to get it?
In a letter to governors on Aug. 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked states to be prepared to expedite distribution of the vaccines. Three U.S. drug makers – Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer – are progressing with their Phase 3 clinical trials.
EEOC’s vaccine guidance
Legally, employers can require employees to get the vaccine, says Polsinelli attorney Lindsay Ryan. However, employers may also have a legal duty under the ADA to allow certain high-risk employees to opt out of the vaccine.
That’s why it’s best to simply encourage employees to get the vaccine rather than mandate it, says the EEOC. The agency will likely issue additional guidance for employers once a vaccine is approved by the FDA.
Employers contemplating any COVID-19 policy should carefully consider “the threat posed to the health and safety of their employees, the risk of future claims and employee morale,” says Ryan.