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Can My Boss Make Me Get The Coronavirus Vaccine?

Five doses of COVID-19 vaccine is held by SPC Angel Laureano at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on December 14, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Pool / AFP)
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With the emergency approval of at least two different COVID-19 vaccines, the end may finally be in sight for this ongoing pandemic. But given the polarized moment, the sometimes confusing official messaging, and even outright misinformation surrounding the approval process, some folks may be hesitant to get vaccinated. Some may even be concerned that they could be forced to do so as a condition of employment.

Possible? Yes. Likely? Maybe not.

Several legal and employment experts have said employers likely have the right to mandate their employees get the shots, noting that companies have been allowed to require flu vaccinations in the past. But others suggest the answer is not so clear-cut, or that it's too soon to tell.

Either way, Dorit Reiss, a professor of law at the University of California Hastings and a member of The Vaccine Working Group on Ethics and Policy, told us it's important to recognize that mandates are not the only solution for making sure workplaces are safe:

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"Mandates can be a really important additional tool, but they're not a solution for high levels of concern or mistrust, by themselves. The other thing to remember is that [the] legal framework is one thing, the question of whether it is a good idea to mandate is another. If you know that 40% of your workforce are very scared of the vaccine, that may be a reason not to mandate."


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