Elected leaders and health officials have stressed the importance of getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus to help society get back to normal. However, there are questions about whether it is legal to require healthcare workers to get the vaccine.
Generally, employers can require workers to get a regular vaccine, said Schmidt Kramer partner Scott Cooper, in an article published by FOX43.
“Unless there’s a state or federal law that says they cannot, an employer can with certain qualified exceptions,” Cooper said.
This is based on a 7-2 U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1905, Jacobson vs. Massachusetts. The ruling allowed municipalities to require vaccinations.
The problem with the COVID-19 vaccine is it is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). COVID-19 vaccines are being administered under emergency use authorization. There is no case in Pennsylvania that has ever dealt with this type of situation.
In May, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health employees received an email stating that all employees were required to be vaccinated. Pennsylvania is an “at-will” state, which means employers have the authority to terminate employees for any reason, without warning.
FOX43 contacted Lancaster General Health and they released the following statement:
“Our vaccination policy – which requires employees to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 1 – is an important way to protect our patients, staff, and the communities we serve. To address the remaining employees with questions, we will continue offering information about vaccine safety and efficacy and this policy, as well as the opportunity to apply for religious and medical exemptions.”