Can the COVID-19 vaccine be mandated?

Local News

As one of two COVID-19 vaccines go up for FDA approval, can employers mandate you get the vaccine when its available?

The County Executive and director of the Health Department both encourage employers to push for their employees to get the covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available. 

“The more people that are vaccinated, the quicker we are going to get out of this pandemic and the faster we will get to a recovery stage,” says Melissa Lyon, director of the Erie County Department of Health.

County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper adds that the vaccine could be a proactive measure to the economic downfall of the pandemic. 

“A healthy population, good public health is absolutely essential to good economic development and to a thriving economy,” says Dahlkemper.

There is no official word on if a coronavirus vaccine would be mandatory for workers.

” In general, yes an employer would have the right to require vaccine of their employees; particularly an ‘at-will employer,” says lawyer Timothy McNair.

Exceptions to a potential vaccine mandate would include medical issues or religious beliefs. 

“They would have to be accommodated either by working separately, working off site, whatever the employer can do that is reasonable,” says McNair.

However, it does not guarantee the employee would keep their job. Also, if company employees are represented by a union, a vaccine mandate could become an issue for collective bargaining. 

As the general public waits for the vaccine to roll out for distribution, we decided to talk to members to see if they are ready to get the dose themselves.   

” Yes, I work in healthcare. I’m excited for it, I hope it helps everyone,” says healthcare worker Tracy Wentz.

“Yeah, I’ll get it. I think it works according to news,” says Erie Resident James Kerney Jr.

“I don’t know if I would because I think there’s people that would need it more and I respect that,” says Erie Resident Stefanie Seath.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine says there is not a mandate in place for public school students to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

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