Can Your Employer Require You To Get A COVID-19 Vaccine?

Three legal analysts who spoke to WBZ said employers likely have the right to require vaccines. WBZ-TV's Kristina Rex reports.

Video Transcript

DAVID WADE: As more people get vaccinated, there is a growing debate over whether or not there should be so-called passports to prove that you've had the COVID shot. As Kristina Rex tells us, requiring the vaccine is now a flashpoint in reopening plans.

KRISTINA REX: With some local universities requiring students to get a COVID-19 vaccine to come back to campus, many people working from home are wondering what it'll take to get back in these office buildings. Can your employer require that you get the COVID-19 vaccine to come back to work?

- The answer is a very strong and definitive maybe.

PATRICK CURRAN: The employer can require that, yes.

MICHAEL ULRICH: This is kind of uncharted territories in a lot of ways legally.

KRISTINA REX: The jury's still out on whether or not private employers can make you get a COVID vaccine. But legal experts say the answer is likely, yes.

MICHAEL ULRICH: Vaccine mandates have been upheld for over a century, both by the government and by employers. But those are typically well-known, well-established vaccines.

KRISTINA REX: And that's where the gray area comes in-- the fact that this vaccine is brand new and has been granted emergency use, so there is no legal roadmap. Here in Massachusetts, 4.1 million doses of these vaccines have been administered for a total of 1.57 million people vaccinated.

BARRY FINEGOLD: We want to go to live concerts, we want to go to sporting events.

KRISTINA REX: State Senator Barry Finegold sent a letter to the federal government urging the president to establish vaccine passports or digital proof you've been vaccinated, and then businesses could choose whether or not they want to require the passport for entry.

BARRY FINEGOLD: So are we going to have ten different devices that are going to show we're vaccinated? I think it would be a lot better to have one uniform process.

KRISTINA REX: But both the White House and the governor were clear Wednesday. This is not on either's agenda.

CHARLIE BAKER: I think having a conversation about creating a barrier before people have even had an opportunity to be eligible to be vaccinated, let's focus on getting people vaccinated.

KRISTINA REX: As vaccines become more widely available, companies are now questioning whether to make them mandatory.

PATRICK CURRAN: Yeah, it's become a very hot topic in the last, especially in the last week or two.

KRISTINA REX: And that was Boston employment lawyer Patrick Curran. He tells us that while many clients are asking about mandatory vaccines, most have decided not to require them for their employees so far. In Boston, Kristina Rex, WBZ News.