Employers can require you to take COVID vaccine

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - When the long-awaited COVID vaccine is finally approved, you might be required to take it.

Employers are allowed to mandate the vaccine for their employees, with certain exceptions.

It’s well established that for things like the flu shot, employers are allowed to require it. But that has only really been applied to health care workers.

With the threat of a global pandemic, that requirement could be used in other industries as well, raising questions and potential legal challenges.

“There will be no lack of questions, no lack of issues,” said Nola Hitchcock Cross from Cross Law Firm.

Cross says the requirement for health care workers is aimed at protecting patients in their care, but other companies could adopt the requirement for the COVID vaccine to protect customers and employees.

"If this gets extended to other contexts we won’t be talking so much about patients, but coworkers,” said Cross.

There are exceptions if you have a medical issue or if it’s against your religion, and can prove it.

But the argument we often hear in the mask debate, that it’s a person’s individual right to make their own decisions, isn’t going to work.

“The answer is yes, we have rights, but so does the person sitting next to us and the patient we’re taking care of and so on, and all of that has to be accommodated and put together,” said Cross.

The issue is not clear-cut, however.  Cross says that by law, companies have to try and accommodate an employee, such as moving them to a different part of the building with less people, or to a different shift entirely so they reduce the risk of exposure to others.

“I think this is something that people have to work through, and they have to do a little soul searching,” said Cross.

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