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Covid Vaccine Legality: Will you be required to take it?

Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 11:00 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Moderna is now the second vaccine to file for emergency use authorization from the FDA, if approved, could you legally be required to take it?

Alta Charo is a law and bioethics professor at UW-Madison.

She said a vaccine mandate at the federal level is unlikely because it would be challenged in courts.

Charo explained there’s more public health power at the state level.

“We know this because we’ve seen governments use that power to mandate vaccinations of school children against various kinds of diseases,” Charo said.

She said employees may see a similar requirement in the workplace.

“Employers have a great deal of freedom in most states. Work places are considered at-will which means an employer can hire or fire for whatever reason,” she said.

Wisconsin falls in this category because it’s an at-will state.

Charro said it wouldn’t be far-fetched for an employer to require a covid-19 vaccine before returning to work.

“Employers really can require that you either take the vaccine, work in a different setting where you’re not as much of a risk to other people or take a temporary leave of absence,” she said.

Not everyone is on board to take the vaccine. A recent Gallup poll shows about 6 in 10 Americans are willing to get the immunization.

“When people get these vaccines they’re going to feel lousy for a couple of days and that’s normal and it’s expected, but it should not deter people from getting vaccinated,” Daivd O’Connor, UW-Madison pathology and laboratory medicine professor said.

He said the vaccines were tested on thousands of people to prove safety and effectiveness.

“We had such a surge in cases in the Fall and we were able to quickly determine how well these vaccines work and they seem to work great,” O’Connor said.

He explained rare side effects may show up after a large amount of people are vaccinated, but researchers will continue studying and following up on the vaccines as time goes on.

O’Connor said the vaccine could turn the tide of the pandemic.

“They gave us a lot of hope that that the vaccines will be able to keep people out of the hospital and keep people from getting very sick,” he said.

The CDC called for an emergency meeting on Tuesday to vote on who will be first in line for the vaccines. Some of the people recommended for the top of the list: healthcare workers, nursing home staff and tenants and the older at risk population.

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