Attorney: Employers within rights to require COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Ascension Via Christi announced Wednesday that it would require all of its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The push to get people vaccinated comes as cases of the delta variant surge across the country, mainly among those who have not been vaccinated.

Employment attorney Eric Metz, with Triplett Woolf Garretson Attorneys, says it is within the healthcare system’s rights to require the vaccine.

“The (E)EOC came out with guidance on that subject in June of this year, indicating it was legal to mandate vaccinations,” said Metz.

By Nov. 12, all Ascension associates will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but there are a couple of exemptions.

“If someone has a sincerely held religious belief that would prohibit vaccinations, that would have to be considered. And the second is if they have a medical condition that may prevent them from getting a vaccination, the employer must take that into consideration,” said Metz.

He says if an employee doesn’t get the shots because of these reasons, the employer must provide another alternative, like mask-wearing, remote work or even daily COVID testing.

While COVID-19 and its vaccine are both relatively new, the conversation about mandatory vaccinations is not. Ascension already requires employees to get an annual flu shot.

“The issue of mandatory vaccinations - flu shot, smallpox. That has been an issue in the healthcare profession for many years,” said Metz.

Metz says a lot of companies have been hesitant to require the COVID-19 vaccine since it hasn’t gotten full approval by the FDA, but that could happen in a couple of months. If it does, we may see even more similar workplace mandates.

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