Can employers really require you to be vaccinated for COVID?

Some hospitals in the Philadelphia area have already mandated employees to be vaccinated.

ByChad Pradelli and Cheryl Mettendorf WPVI logo
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Can employers really require you to be vaccinated?
EMBED <>More Videos

VACCINE MANDATE: Federal guidance has supported employer rights to require vaccines, but there are some exemptions

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- More workers are heading back to the office as vaccination rates increase, but some employers have already or are considering whether to mandate COVID-19 vaccines.

The bottom line is employers can require employees to get a vaccine, but there are exemptions.

Kline and Specter is one of the leading law firms in Philadelphia. One hundred fifty people work there and the legal practice has mandated the vaccine for employees.

"Think about how much farther along we would be on this pandemic if everybody took the same position and had their employees get a vaccination," said Shanin Specter.

SEE ALSO: These Philly-area hospitals are requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID

VACCINE MANDATE: Some hospitals and health networks in the Philly region have announced a mandate for employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Specter says 96% of workers have complied; seven people have not, citing a medical or religious exemption.

Federal guidance has supported employer rights to mandate vaccines given the exemptions. Accommodations need to be made unless it would create an "undue hardship" on the businesses' operation.

"Those folks are working on a separate floor in the law firm and again, that's something that most employers can do," Specter added.

Last month, a federal judge dismissed a case brought by several Houston hospital workers over the vaccine requirement.

Jefferson University Hospital, Virtua Health and University of Pennsylvania Health System are also requiring employee vaccines.

"Any new hire will have had two doses of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine," said Dr. PJ Brennan who is the Chief Medical Officer with the University of Pennsylvania.

SEE ALSO: Fauci says CDC weighing revised mask guidance amid COVID surges

"Everyone else has to be vaccinated or have an exemption by September 1," he added.

Temple University Hospital and Einstein Healthcare Network are still deciding on a mandate.

According to the American Medical Association, 96% of physicians have been vaccinated, but it can put businesses in a pickle.

Employees who are fired or decide to leave could leave companies in a bind trying to replace them. That's why many have encouraged vaccines but are sitting on the sidelines to see how the issue plays out.

"I think some people will leave their jobs because they don't want to get the vaccine," said Brennan. "I think they should, you know, think carefully about it. They may be going from a place that's mandating a vaccine to a place that will mandate the vaccine not too far down the road."