Companies Weigh Mandatory Vaccines As Delta Variant Spreads

News & Politics
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Damir Mujezinovic

Thought to be the most contagious variant of the novel coronavirus yet, the Delta variant has spread rapidly across the United States, threatening to stymie pandemic progress and put the breaks on economic recovery.

More than half of Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but millions are refusing to get their shots, despite warnings and pleas from public health officials and lawmakers alike.

Businesses across the country appear to be losing patience and many are weighing mandatory vaccines for employees, according to new reports.

'Get A Shot Or Get Another Job'

As workers return to offices and other workplaces, they are told to "get a shot or get another job," according to Fortune magazine, which reported that companies are slowly introducing strict COVID-19 policies.

United Airlines, for instance, requires proof of vaccination from new hires. More than 600 public and private colleges have mandated vaccinations for staff and students, while the Broadway show Hamilton recently announced that all cast and crew must be vaccinated.

The National Football League (NFL) recently took a step in the same direction, imposing strict new rules for players and coaches alike.

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Public Employers

Public employers have also started requiring vaccinations. New York City and the state of California have told all employees that they must either get vaccinated or face mandatory testing.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently said that municipal employees who refuse to get vaccinated will face dismissal without pay.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, meanwhile, said that his government will require all employees to submit proof of vaccination or wear a face mask in the office and get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.


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In May this year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explicitly said that federal laws "do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19" as long as employers don't break civil rights and disabilities laws.

According to Dorit Reiss, a professor who studies vaccine policy at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, "there’s a longstanding precedent to set workplace rules."

"A safe workplace is important not just for the employer, but also for the employees and for the consumers," Reiss added.

Still, some states have sided with employees, enacting laws that would forbid an employer from seeking proof of vaccination.

What Do Experts Say?

Some experts believe companies have the responsibility to impose vaccine mandates.

In a recent op-ed for USA Today, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, and Penn's Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy researchers Matthew Guido and Amaya Diana urged private employers to act and fill the void left by the government.

Writing that President Joe Biden and the federal government are "limited by politics and unclear authority," they argued that "private employers are in a better position to institute mandates and have precedent to do so."