Push for workplace vaccine requirements continues as delta variant spreads

NOW: Push for workplace vaccine requirements continues as delta variant spreads

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The list of companies, big and small, requiring workers to get the Covid vaccine is growing. 

Most are still in the health care industry, like the VA in Milwaukee. 

Title 38 employees have eight weeks to get themselves fully vaccinated.

Vulnerable veterans and front-line workers got in on some of the first Covid shots in the area back in December.

The VA is again leading the way -- the first federal agency in the country requiring employees be Covid vaccinated.

"I'm really proud to be part of an organization where we are progressive once again, this time in terms of keeping our employees and our community safe," said CEO and Medical Center Director Daniel Zomchek. 

Meanwhile, one of the state's largest medical organizations, the Wisconsin Medical Society, is urging health care organizations to require their employees be vaccinated.

"I believe it's -- if you're gonna be in health care, you have an ethical obligation to protect your patients," said Dr. Clyde Chumbley, Wisconsin Medical Society CEO.

Children's Wisconsin, the Medical College of Wisconsin and Ascension Wisconsin have already announced they are requiring all employees to get vaccinated. 

"In most states, employers can mandate employees receive the vaccine," said attorney Erin Strohbehn of Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP.

Strohbehn says those who don't want to take the Covid shot will need a reason.

"Unless they have a legitimate medical or religious exception that would fall under the Americans With Disabilities Act," she said. "Likewise, for a religious reason, I would advise people that they will have to follow that mandate from their employer."

Even with an objection though, it's ultimately up to the employer to decide. 

"In those situations where there may be a medical reason, employers generally ask for documentation and determine whether or not the employer can accommodate that request from the employee," said Strohbehn.

A few states have attempted to ban vaccine mandates, but officials say that's unlikely to happen in Wisconsin.

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