The argument is that if you get the flu vaccine you will be less likely to get severe flu and fill ICU beds. But is that based in science and can employers use that to mandate the flu vaccine in a pandemic?Answers below…
The University of California and other universities/colleges, Veterans Affairs Health and other employers/organizations are implementing flu vaccine mandates this fall. While some of these employers used to recommend the flu vaccine, with a mask requirement as an alternative, this year the edict has come down that the flu vaccine should be mandated for employment. Some such as the VA already have a built in religious exemption, so ask for the fine print…
A Voice for Choice Advocacy has looked at both the science behind the flu vaccine with respect to COVID-19 and at the federal and California state employee laws. In summary…
The Flu Vaccine and its Unknown Impact on the COVID Pandemic: The Precautionary Principle must be applied
There is no conclusive data showing that the flu vaccine would lessen the impact of COVID on an individual or on a community. In fact, there are a number research studies that have found the opposite – that flu vaccination increases COVID morbidity and increases the risk of coronaviruses and other non-flu viruses, as detailed below. Until the science is settled, a flu vaccine requirement should not be implemented. Physicians, employers, schools, legislators and all others should follow the Precautionary Principle with respect to flu vaccination requirements this year and heed on the side of caution until there is scientific assurance that the flu vaccine will not put individuals and the community in a higher risk category for COVID-19 infection, symptoms and/or death. More details and the science in this pdf.
Required exemptions/opt outs for Employee Flu Vaccine Mandates
According to both federal and California state law, employers cannot require any employee to get the flu (or any other) vaccine, without other options.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s 2009 guidance unequivocally concludes that “both the ADA and Title VII prohibits an employer from compelling its employees to be vaccinated for influenza regardless of their medical condition or religious beliefs – even during a pandemic.” Requiring the flu vaccine for employees would equate to religious discrimination.
According to the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA)’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases Standard, Title 8, California Code of Regulations (CCR) Section 5199, “All covered employers must make the influenza vaccine available during flu season…Employees are permitted to decline any recommended vaccination, but the employer must ensure that they sign the statement.”
More details on “Federal and CA State Employment law” with respect to vaccine policies in this pdf.
We are sharing this information to empower you to use it if needed. The information provided on this page does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available in this email are for general informational purposes only.