If your company doesn’t require you to have a COVID-19 vaccine now, it might be just a matter of time. Reuters reports the results of a new survey show more than half of US companies plan to impose coronavirus vaccine mandates in their workplaces this year, and almost one quarter are considering requiring the vaccines as a condition of employment.
Many Courts are upholding these mandates, including our Nation’s highest Court. In August, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a request from a group of Indiana University students to block the school’s requirement that students be vaccinated against the virus.
One of the other high-profile lawsuits so far was brought by employees of a Houston, Texas hospital. They filed suit after a vaccine mandate. The trial judge quickly threw out the lawsuit, stating the employees “are not participants in a human trial.”
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled this year that employers can make COVID-19 vaccination a condition of employment. Private companies are free to set conditions of employment as long as they don’t violate state and federal laws.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deemed COVID-19 vaccines “safe and effective.” The president of the American Medical Association, Dr. Gerald Harmon, urges the public and private sectors to mandate vaccinations. Dr. Harmon says the vaccines are the only way out of this pandemic.
Many Courts, in ruling in favor of upholding vaccine mandates, cite to a 116-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts to fine adult residents who refused to get the smallpox vaccine. In a 7-2 decision, Justice John Marshall Harlan, writing for the majority, wrote “every well-ordered society” is charged with keeping its citizens safe. And there are times, “under the pressure of great dangers,” when those citizens may be subjected to “reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand.”
The U.S. Supreme Court also upheld a smallpox vaccine requirement in public schools. Today, every state requires that students attending public and private schools receive certain vaccinations, with limited medical and religious exemptions.
In West Virginia, children entering public, private, or parochial school or state-regulated childcare must be immunized against chickenpox, hepatitis-b, measles, meningitis, mumps, diphtheria, polio, rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough. See W. Va. Code § 16-3-4. The statute provides an exemption when a physician determines that the vaccination is contraindicated for a specific child and an immunization officer certifies that the exemption is appropriate. West Virginia is one of only a few states that has no religious exemption.