CLEVELAND — The Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could impact the decision companies are facing when it comes to adopting vaccine mandates for employees.
Health and law experts say the move from the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to full approval of Pfizer’s vaccine offers additional reinforcement and clarity.
“I do think that there may be an impact on organizations, like hospitals, who may have been reluctant to require it for employees,” said Dr. Keith Armitage of University Hospitals.
Following the FDA’s full approval of the vaccine, the Pentagon confirmed that the U.S. Military will now require all service members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A timeline for completion has yet to be announced.
Walmart, Walt Disney and United Airlines are among companies that have issued vaccine mandates for employees. In Ohio, Summa Health will require employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31. Some employees were against the decision and protested outside the hospital last week.
Sharona Hoffman, a professor of health law at Case Western Reserve University, said it’s legal for companies to put vaccine mandates in place for employees as long as it includes the appropriate exceptions.
“Businesses and employers always have to make exceptions for people with a medical reason not to get the vaccine, and a religious reason not to get the vaccine,” said Hoffman. “But as long as they did that and were not discriminatory, they were fully in the rights to have this mandate before this full approval.”
Hoffman said the FDA’s full approval of Pfizer’s vaccine may lead to businesses feeling more comfortable about issuing a vaccine mandate for employees.
“It takes away an argument,” said Hoffman. “Because there were people, who at least said that they were very concerned because [the vaccine] only had emergency use approval not full approval so it takes away an argument that was used.”
The push to get more people vaccinated continues. On Monday, Summit County Public Health announced they will offer $100 Visa or MasterCard gift cards, while supplies last, to any Ohio resident 12 and over who get their first dose of the COVID vaccine. The incentive will be distributed on Aug. 27 during a drive-thru clinic at 1867 W. Market St. in Akron from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.