US businesses can legally require workers be vaccinated. Will they be fired if they say no?
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WASHINGTON, D.C., December 21, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Employers in the United States can require that employees be vaccinated, making it possible for businesses to fire workers who refuse COVID-19 shots.
The Charlotte Observer reported today that it is “entirely legal for a business to require a vaccination, including for COVID-19, provided that religious and medical accommodations are made, according to health experts and lawyers."
It added, however, that “whether employers will actually do that is another question altogether.” An informal survey of about 500 North Carolina businesses suggested that only 5 percent of employers would require employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Forty-five percent said they wouldn’t, and the rest were undecided.
Some of the factors preventing employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccination include employees’ reluctance to take the shot, the vaccine’s status as a new medical product receiving only “emergency authorization” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and its unknown effects on pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.
However, Dr. David Weber, medical director of hospital epidemiology and associate chief medical officer of the University of North Carolina Health Care in Chapel Hill, told the Observer that it is possible in the next six months that schools and universities will make vaccination a condition of attending classes in person.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week that employers could not require the vaccine, even if they wanted to, because it is not widely available. However, it stated that the “emergency authorization” status of the current options does not change “an employer’s legal ability to require a vaccine.”
The onus is on employers to prove that a vaccination is necessary for an employee to do the job, though. The Inquirer was told that this could mean that the employee works “in a high-risk environment, such as a hospital or a long-term care facility, and that the vaccine is necessary to keep patients and employees safe” or that there is a “direct threat” of COVID-19 to the employee. Therefore, although you might be forced to accept vaccination to keep your job in a hospital, your employer would have less of a case if you work from home.
The Inquirer also mentioned that some states have “restrictions” on requiring government employees to get vaccinations, although Pennsylvania is not one of them. Meanwhile, employees who don’t want to take the vaccine for religious or medical reasons have to be “accommodated” by employers, although those who object on purely political grounds do not.
Refusing the COVID-19 vaccination on religious grounds may be difficult for Catholics who naturally object to accepting a vaccine developed with the use of genetic material from aborted fetuses, thanks to recent statements from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Both bodies have stated that Catholics may use such vaccines if there are no alternatives. Some Catholic leaders, however, including Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, have declared that they will not accept vaccines using or developed from material taken from aborted children.