PORTLAND, Ore — With both Pfizer and Moderna seeking emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccines and Oregon scheduled to receive tens of thousands of doses in mid-December, debates about vaccine mandates are imminent.
So, KGW set out to VERIFY: Is it legal in Oregon for employers to require employees to be vaccinated?
The short answer? Yes, but with restrictions.
Employers do have the right to mandate vaccinations, like many hospitals do with annual flu shots. But in Oregon, employees may seek medical, religious or philosophical exemptions.
All states allow medical exemptions, which are allowed for people who have a disease or take medicine that weakens their immune system, have a severe allergy to a vaccine or an ingredient in it or have had a severe reaction to a vaccine in the past.
Oregon is one of 15 states to also allow both philosophical exemptions — which are based on personal beliefs about vaccines — and religious exemptions.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must provide employees with exemptions a “reasonable accommodation” unless there is an “undue hardship” on the employer.
With COVID-19, accommodations could be wearing a mask or working from home.
COVID-19 vaccines are most likely to be required for health care workers, who the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put first in line to receive the first dose of the first vaccine in mid-December.
But experts say that in other workplaces, employers may be more likely to encourage their workers to get immunized, rather than issue a mandate, for liability reasons.
Do you have something you want us to VERIFY? Let us know. Email us at Verify@kgw.com.