Will mandates increase after FDA approval of Pfizer vaccine?

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 8:02 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The FDA gave final full approval for the Pfizer vaccine on Monday. The vaccine was under an emergency use authorization since late last year.

Will this now lead to more businesses mandating their employees get vaccinated?

While some businesses such as Walmart, Disney, Google and some hospitals have demanded their workers get vaccinated, others did not because the Pfizer vaccine was under emergency authorization.

Now that the FDA has given full authorization, many expect this will open the door for more mandates for workers.

The Alabama Retail Association spokeswoman said many businesses are watching and now analyzing the decision.

“Businesses are interested in making sure their employees are safe from the very beginning,” said Nancy Dennis.

Dennis said restaurants in Alabama inquired about vaccinations early in the pandemic. Can Alabama businesses mandate their workers get vaccinated now that the FDA has given final approval?

“It strengthens the hand of businesses that want to mandate vaccines for their employees. An employee can no longer say well I don’t want to take it because it’s not FDA approved. That argument is gone,” said John Carroll with the Cumberland School of Law.

The state legislature passed a law restricting mandates, but not in this case, according to Carroll.

“None of these state laws that passed have anything to do with private employers. So a private employer is free to say to an employee you have to get vaccinated unless you have a religious or health exception of some sort,” Carroll said.

Carroll said some employees may try to challenge such a mandate, but they would face an uphill fight. Dennis says businesses want to protect customers and to keep their business open, but they also need workers.

“Everybody is short on employees. They are doing whatever they can to attract employees. All those things have to be considered,” Dennis said.

Carroll said we could see some legal challenges over health or religious issues. He added these have to be bonafide issues - not something that is just made up.

The Alabama Retail Association is having their attorneys look at the ruling and is expected to send out guidance for their members who might be considering mandates.

Dennis said a lot of their members say their employees are already vaccinated.

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