Date: December 16, 2021
Mandates requiring the COVID-19 booster vaccine are cropping up around the country as government agencies, employers, and universities debate the possible benefits and backlash. The Pews Trust spoke with TELG managing principal R. Scott Oswald about the legality of private employers requiring the booster.
“It really comes down to what an employer believes is necessary to protect the safety of their workers.”
R. Scott Oswald
Booster Mandates Are a Tough Call for States, Businesses
Earlier this month, New Mexico became the first state to require COVID-19 boosters for its state employees, health care workers and educators.
Officials there cite recent state research showing that immunity from the first series of shots wanes over time, which corresponds with other studies from around the world.
“The evidence is incontrovertible,” said acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase. “Our data is telling us that more than two shots are needed to provide ongoing protection. If we feel like it’s going to save lives and protect people, we do have a bias for early action.”
But many other governments, employers and universities beyond New Mexico are struggling with whether to mandate boosters, leading to mixed messages to the public and a patchwork of policies across the country, even as COVID-19 cases see a winter surge.
Private employers are on solid footing if they choose to issue a booster requirement, said Scott Oswald, managing principal of the Employment Law Group, which specializes in workplace issues.
“It’s very clear that our regulatory agencies are going to give a wide berth to employers to institute these mandates,” he said. “It really comes down to what an employer believes is necessary to protect the safety of their workers.”
Still, he said, business leaders should make sure their region has enough available shots to allow workers to comply.