Although only a handful of long-term care operators have gone the route of requiring employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine, some state legislators are working to pre-empt those mandates, according to a Washington Post analysis Monday.
Lawmakers in almost two dozen states have introduced anti-mandate legislation, according to the media outlet. The bills, mostly backed by Republicans, would limit employers’ ability to require coronavirus vaccines for their staff members, and some even go so far as to propose limitations on the ability of workplaces to require any vaccines at all, potentially affecting existing rules for flu and hepatitis B vaccines among staff members at nursing homes and other healthcare facilities as well as senior living communities.
To date, none of the proposals limiting employer vaccine mandates has passed, and several already have failed, according to the Post.
In Indiana, for example, a bill proposed to ban employer-mandated vaccines stalled amid opposition from the state’s chamber of commerce, healthcare groups and public health experts. In North Dakota, House Bill 1301 would have forbidden employers from requiring their workers to get vaccines, but it was defeated by the state’s House of Representatives. Similar anti-mandate bills have also failed in Mississippi, Wisconsin and Virginia.
Nonetheless, many states still have legislation pending that would prohibit employers from making vaccination a condition of employment, according to a database of measures compiled by law firm HuschBlackwell.
Once vaccines get full FDA authorization and supply ramps up, the question of whether to require shots could become more elevated, however, the Post noted. In addition, most employers seem open to the idea of mandates. A recent survey of 150 executives conducted by Yale School of Management found that almost three-fourths support making vaccines mandatory.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December released guidance stating that employers can require proof of COVID-19 vaccination from employees, with some exceptions. Although federal laws can require employers to grant exemptions based on disability or religious accommodations, employers may be permitted to exclude from the workplace individuals unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine under certain circumstances, the commission said.
Among providers that already have mandated COVID-19 vaccination for employees are Atria Senior Living, Juniper Communities and Silverado. ALG Senior has implemented a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for new staff members and plans to do so for existing employees.