Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
Posted October 6, 2020

Can employers require vaccinations?

As COVID vaccines begin to phase in, job seekers and employees alike should know if employers, or potential employers, can require immunization as a term of employment. Learn your worker rights.
Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
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Can employers require vaccinations?
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UPDATED: DECEMBER 2020

#Coronavirus vaccines have been developed, and as states begin a phased roll-out to administer the vaccination - it's important to understand whether or not employers can require immunization against COVID-19 as a term of employment.

Can hiring companies require COVID-19 vaccinations?

Short answer is YES. With exceptions.

This information is based on the current guidelines for vaccines against communicable diseases and the flu. Specific rules for COVID vaccinations may be forthcoming.

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) states that U.S. employers can require employees to take influenza vaccines. But it emphasize that employees “need to be properly informed of the benefits of vaccinations.” To-date, while the healthcare industry requires its employees to immunize, it has been rare for companies outside of healthcare to require vaccinations as a term and condition of employment.

That may change when the COVID vaccine is widely available to the general public.

"Employers may require vaccines before employees return to the worksite if the failure to be vaccinated constitutes a direct threat to other employees in the workplace..."
- Robin Samuel, an attorney with Baker McKenzie in Los Angeles

Can you refuse vaccinations if your employer requires them?

The short answer is YES.

Medical exemptions: Employees can refuse a vaccination if they have a reasonable belief that they possess a medical condition that would create serious illness, harm, or a severe reaction to the vaccine. These workers may be protected under a provision in the Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970.

Disability: Employees can also claim exemption from receiving an employer-required vaccination under the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, which prohibits discrimination based on #disability, employees would not be required to take a vaccine if they have a medical condition that makes it unsafe for them to receive it. With this law, employers must reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities.

Religious beliefs: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that employers can accommodate employee’s opposition to vaccinations should it conflict with their “sincerely-held religious beliefs.” To qualify for such an exemption employee’s are required to provide written documentation to their employers.

What's happening today with vaccines at work?

Employers - especially companies in public-facing industries, have a lot to consider with this highly contagious illness. But given the limited availability, and that COVID vaccines currently being administered are under emergency use authorization (not yet fully approved by the FDA) it may be some time before workplaces mandate the vaccine to its workers.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) advises that its best practice is to encourage employees to take a vaccine rather than to mandate it entirely.


What are your thoughts on vaccine requirements? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
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Comments

Ashley Wilson

I remember when the swine flu happened and I was an educator and the vaccine was so new that I was nervous to take it. The school never mandated it and no cases occurred at the school but I also didn't receive the vaccine.

I know MANY workplaces that force those who are employed to receive the flu shot each year. My cousin for example is in HR and must have her flu shot or she will be suspended. To me, it seems crazy to force that kind of thing, but for COVID it is a bit different. I think we will have to cross that bridge when we come to it, but it's certainly worth pondering.

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Ford Simpson

That's a great question, and how will your co-workers view the person who would refuse the vaccine? Does their health impact you even though you have been vaccinated? This is a many headed monster! Ford

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Kathy Arriola

Way too rushed and no history on long term side effects or efficacy. I prefer to wait until there is at least a year’s worth of real data. I had a really bad reaction to the H1N1 vaccine and now I can’t take the annual flu shots because they add H1N1 to it every year.

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Ray Tilkens

Visited my doctor yesterday for a check up. In joking, I asked him for some Hydrochloiquin. He told me that he prescribed it for himself every year before going overseas on mission trips. He took it last March for a month as a Covid preventative. When he went to refill it, the pharmacist told him doctors can no longer write prescriptions for that drug without obtaining federal approval. He said it works well for Covid and only cost $13 per month whereas the covid vaccine is projected to cost $3000 per vaccine and probably takes several injections. Big Pharma wants the profits even if it cost lives.

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Onederer Onederer

Based on recent history, would you really board a ship for a vacation, knowing the recent frequency of shipboard diseases and sickness which have developed? Personally, I've lost any taste to go big ship sailing. I value my life. Conversely, I very frequently have read that the vaccinations contain ingredients not supposed to be in those vials, such as aborted fetal cells, aluminum, mercury (disguised under a different name). And if you consider that Liberals are not really your friends, and they just happen to run the injection club, would you trust their motives for wanting to stick a needle into you? Yea, a financial motive, and a potential time-bomb running in your veins. You have read that they want to create a 2/3rds Global de-population, haven't you? Is this their high motive to fervently push vaccinations?

Just something to ponder about, considering today's political turmoil. Time to do your homework! Is it worth taking a chance to take the needle?

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Sir Whistler Bhagwan

No , no one has a right to make someone take any drug.

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Dennis Swearman

It is ultimately your choice, to live or not.

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Natasha Tidwell

thank god they cant force us to take that vaccine. There is to little known about the reaction, I have underlying conditions and am actually terrified to take it.

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James Monet

I know this because it's been around since the 60's and also I've seen the report myself.

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Gail Swenson

Everyone should have the right to decide if they want to take the vaccine or not. They should never be forced to take it or else they lose their job. This is especially true if it has not even been approved yet. Hopefully we have not become a communist country and are still free

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