Employers mandate COVID-19 vaccines
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that all 340,000 municipal employees, including teachers, must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 13, the first day of school, or submit to weekly coronavirus testing. Teacher unions applauded the decision but said they might negotiate over how to cover testing requirements. California health officials issued a similar mandate for their 238,000 state employees, starting in August. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs joined the ranks on Monday afternoon, giving 115,000 employees in “patient-facing” jobs eight weeks to get vaccinated—with no alternative testing option. The VA is the first federal agency to enforce a vaccine mandate. St. Louis became the first city on Monday to reinstate mask requirements because of the spread of the coronavirus delta variant.
Are vaccine mandates legal? Workers and students have sued for the right not to get vaccinated but have not succeeded so far. Federal judges have upheld vaccine mandates established by a hospital system in Houston and Indiana University. Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published guidance saying employers could require immunizations as a condition of employment if they provided reasonable accommodations for people with lawful objections such as disability or discrimination claims.
Dig deeper: Listen to Mary Reichard discuss the legality of vaccine mandates further on The World and Everything in It.
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