What to know about possible COVID-19 vaccine mandates by employers and stores

Coronavirus Vaccine

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Could your employer require a COVID-19 vaccination?

Some experts say yes, but there are medical and religious exemptions.

In a recent interview with NewsNastion affiliate KTVX, a shareholder at a Salt Lake City law firm explained there is some legal precedent that companies can utilize when deciding if a vaccine must be mandatory.

“Employers may ask employees if they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 and may also ask employees to provide proof of vaccination, and the reason that this is allowed is because the EEOC generally prohibits inquiries that are disability related,” said Jascha Clark.

He added, “But an employee’s answer doesn’t necessarily reveal a medical condition. There are lots of reasons why they may not have been vaccinated. If employers do decide to require proof of the vaccine or even ask about it, what they could do is instruct employees to only provide information regarding the vaccine and no other medical information.”

According to The Americans with Disabilities Act, “a requirement that an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace” is legal.

The reason for that vaccine hesitancy factors into any potential accommodations the employer must provide and if that person is viewed as a “threat to others.”

With the CDC’s recent announcement that masks are not required, in or outdoors, for those fully vaccinated against coronavirus, it’s left small business owners wondering if they can ask for vaccination proof.

“It’s well within their rights,” said Attorney Ayesha Mehdi. “[If] you’re asking for that health information, just be sure that you do have to follow state identity theft laws and privacy laws.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News, “The problem and the issue is that we don’t have any way of knowing who is vaccinated and who’s not vaccinated.”

He says it is “reasonable and understandable” that some businesses and localities are maintaining mask requirements because they can’t be sure of an individual’s vaccination history. But he says it’s important to note those measures protect the unvaccinated from each other, and vaccines provide a high level of protection for those who have gotten them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that 39% of adults in rural counties had received at least one shot compared to 46% in urban counties as of April 10. The rural lag holds up in women, men and both younger and older adults.

Polling suggests rural Americans are more likely than others to say they’ll avoid vaccination. The CDC report says rural Americans may have more trouble traveling to distant vaccination sites.

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