Who is covered by a COVID vaccine mandate? – Minnesota lawyer

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Editor’s Note: This article, distributed by The Associated Press, originally appeared on The Conversation site. The Conversation is an independent, nonprofit source of information, analysis, and commentary from academic experts.

By Debbie Kaminer, Baruch College, CUNY

President Joe Biden’s orders requiring the immunization of about two-thirds of the U.S. workforce adds to a patchwork of vaccine mandates aimed at pushing more people to get immunized and bring the pandemic under control.

The president had largely resisted issuing federal warrants, but in recent months many states, businesses and schools have issued their own warrants in order to immunize unwilling or resistant Americans.

Currently, nearly 80 million Americans eligible for the vaccine have yet to receive a single dose, according to the White House. Health experts believe this helped the delta variant thrive in many parts of the country over the summer.

“The unvaccinated overcrowding of our hospitals… leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, pancreatitis or cancer,” Biden said in a speech on September 9, 2021, announcing the new orders. “We have been patient, but our patience is running out. And your refusal has cost us all.

I am a law professor who has written on legal issues related to immunization laws. While it’s not clear how many people in total are covered by the overlapping immunization mandates, they most likely now affect a significant majority of eligible Americans.

Biden’s new orders

The latest vaccine requirements cover more than 100 million workers in total – and it’s unclear how many of those people are unvaccinated.

The bulk of Biden’s orders involve the Occupational Safety and Health Administration developing a rule that companies with 100 or more employees ensure their workers are fully immunized or are tested weekly for the. COVID-19. Although less than 2% of U.S. businesses have 100 or more employees, according to recent census data, they employ more than 80 million workers.

The penalty for non-compliance could be fines for the employer of up to $ 14,000 per violation.

Biden will also demand that federal employees, government contractors and healthcare workers who treat Medicare and Medicaid patients get vaccinated – about 20 million people – with no ability to undergo frequent testing instead.

In addition, the new plan urges large entertainment venues like concert halls and sports stadiums to require proof of vaccination for entry and requires companies to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated and get themselves vaccinated. recover from any side effects related to vaccines.

State and local governments

About half of U.S. states have promulgated their own COVID-19 vaccine mandates. And in some cases, exemptions may be allowed for medical or religious reasons.

Although these mandates differ from state to state, the provisions typically cover a mix of government employees and contractors, health care workers, teachers, and employees in facilities run by the State such as prisons. The majority of these state mandates allow frequent testing and the wearing of masks as an alternative to vaccination.

These statewide vaccination mandates exist almost exclusively in states with Democratic governors. While Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont, all ruled by Republicans, also have vaccination mandates, their populations tend to be liberal.

California and New York City have some of the toughest mandates. California, for example, appears to be the only state that requires proof of vaccination from a negative COVID-19 test to attend an indoor event with 1,000 or more people. New York City requires vaccination for a wider variety of indoor locations, including restaurants and gyms, regardless of the number of people in attendance.

About 20 states, all led by Republican governors, have taken the opposite approach and banned vaccination warrants, either by law or by executive order. Policies vary, but they generally prohibit state agencies from implementing any type of COVID-19 vaccine mandate, prohibit private companies from requiring their clients to be vaccinated, or both.

Montana is currently the only state that prohibits private employers from forcing the vaccine to their employees.

The new federal vaccine mandates would take precedence over some of these state laws and face legal challenges.

Universities and schools

Many educational institutions have also played an important role in making the vaccine compulsory.

More than 1,000 US universities have some form of vaccination mandate for students, employees, or both, including many large public universities. Beyond the usual exemptions for medical or religious reasons, some of these mandates also exclude students learning entirely at a distance.

In August, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block Indiana University’s vaccination mandate that covered virtually all students and employees and included both religious and medical exemptions. For this reason, I think similar vaccine mandates at other universities will likely stand up to constitutional scrutiny as well.

At the elementary school level, only two states, Oregon and Washington, have made the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for almost all preschool workers, while a further seven require teachers and other employees to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

In most states, however, immunization mandates are determined at the local level – some cities or districts adopt mandates despite a state law that explicitly prohibits them. An ongoing survey of 100 large urban school districts across the country found that a quarter required teachers to be vaccinated.

Los Angeles is the only major school district in the country that requires eligible students aged 12 and over to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, vaccination mandates for schoolchildren are not new. Before the pandemic, every state in the nation had some form of mandatory vaccination requirement for kindergarten to grade 12 students.

Private companies

Before the new rule covering private companies, many companies had already decided to require their workers to receive their injections.

Earlier this year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gave the green light for companies to adopt mandatory vaccination policies as long as they remain in compliance with anti-discrimination laws.

While companies were initially slow to demand vaccines, that changed recently after the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine on August 23. Dozens of companies, including Walmart, Goldman Sachs and Google, now require employees to be vaccinated.

Health experts still don’t know how many more people need to be vaccinated to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But the warrants, if confirmed by the courts, will likely help the United States come closer.

Debbie Kaminer is Professor of Law at Baruch College, CUNY, New York.

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