Business leaders are exploring whether employees can be forced to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
On Dec. 15, at a Yale School of Management summit, 72% of current and recent CEOs of major companies hinted at being open to mandating employees take the vaccine. FedEx, Goldman Sachs, and Walmart were among the companies present.
Some business leaders argue that it is simply too early to develop any complete plans.
“It’s too early to say,” said American Airlines CEO Doug Parker. “Let the vaccines be distributed, see what the acceptance rates are… In the end, we’ll all have to make the best decision for our individual companies.”
However, some countries could require vaccinations before airlines can enter the country, Parker noted.
A recent Pew Research poll shows that 60% of Americans support taking the coronavirus vaccine, considerably lower than the 80% vaccination rate that experts argue is necessary for the vaccine to be effective.
There is no federal guidance for employers on mandating vaccination, but during prior pandemics, such as smallpox and H1N1, employers could require vaccines.
Not only do religious and medical exemptions need to be taken into consideration, but the current emergency authorization status of the vaccine raises concerns, said UC Hastings law professor Dorit Reiss.
‘There is some legal uncertainty whether you can mandate a vaccine under emergency use authorization,” explained Reiss. “I suspect some employers will go ahead and mandate. It will be challenged, and the courts could go either way.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission informed employers in March that they could mandate employers take coronavirus tests, leading some to believe that the same guidance will be issued for doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
Specific industries, namely healthcare providers, are expected to mandate vaccination, while others able to continue working safely at home are less likely to do so.
Not all healthcare providers are anxious to mandate vaccinations, however.
MedStar CEO Kenneth Samet, who oversees more than 120 healthcare entities in the Washington-Baltimore region, is waiting until the vaccine receives full standard FDA approval before mandating.
If he were among the frontline workers eligible, said Samet, he would be “first in line,” but understands there are those who want to wait for more information.
Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that the United States could reach herd immunity by late spring or early summer 2021 with more vaccines deployed.