The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has not gone as smoothly as it might have. Officials had high hopes, but distribution got off to a slow start and remains below stated goals. So it may be some time before employees not classified as essential workers will get their shots. There is also another issue to address – some employees do not want to get vaccinated. Their reasons may include:
- They may not believe in getting vaccines of any kind.
- They doubt the COVID vaccine’s effectiveness.
- They are afraid of side effects.
- They do not want other people dictating their health care decisions.
Exceptions to the rule
There are exceptions, but typically businesses can require employees to get vaccinated. This can include shots for the flu or COVID-19. The only legal exceptions allowed are:
- It violates rights protected under the Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- It would complicate a preexisting medical condition.
- They are in a union, which has to collectively bargain all medical requirements.
Finding other solutions
Employers may ask workers to get vaccinated when it is their turn, but repercussions could vary. A limited pool of employees for certain jobs may prompt employers not to enforce the requirement, which could mean that current precautions of masking, social distancing, use of disinfectants will remain in place. Employers can also ask those not vaccinated to work from home or change to work that does not require them to work close to coworkers or customers. Employers could also incentivize compliance with paid time off to get the shots, a bonus for those who do, or some other concession.
The issue is still evolving
As with anything else involving COVID-19, it is hard to accurately predict what will come next. The success so far of the vaccine likely converted some into believers, while others may opt to get the vaccine because of newer, more contagious COVID variants. There may also be new laws at the state and federal level dictating vaccine requirements.
Those with concerns about the risks involved in getting the vaccine, or working with those who do not wish to get it, can discuss their situation with an attorney who handles employment law. These legal professionals can protect the interests and rights of workers unfairly treated while on the job.