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What if you're required by your employer to get the COVID vaccine?

Posted at 5:32 AM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 08:31:46-05

SOUTHERN COLORADO — The CDC says over one million people have received the COVID-19 vaccine. When it is more widely available, the agency hopes everyone gets it, but could you be forced to get the vaccine by your employer?

According to OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, companies can legally impose a vaccine requirement. Some currently do it for the flu shot. However, employees have the right to request medical or religious exemptions, under anti-discrimination laws. Experts say evaluating exemption claims can be a long process.

"To my understanding, it is not required. It will be strongly recommended," said Dr. Khalilah Gates, a Pulmonary Care Specialist for Northwestern Medicine, in an interview with Newsy. "You need 60 to 80 percent of the population to take the vaccine in order for it to be effective," she said.

Legal experts recommend employers have a plan in place before this vaccine even becomes available to the public, and to have those discussions with your employees. It's best to set the groundwork now. As an employee, you can still voice your concerns to your employer, in what's called a joint activity, and that's protected as well.

"Most health care workers are going to be at the mercy of their health care systems," said Dr. Josh Lesko, a lead political analyst with Brief19. "If you're in a vital or critical infrastructure role, your job may mandate as part of return to work," he said.

The good news is, since the roll out of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows 71% will either get the vaccine or are likely to get it.
That's up from 63% in September.