Person receiving vaccine.

Should the Seasonal Flu Vaccine Be Integrated into COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates?

By Matt Bauer

As mandates for COVID-19 vaccinations expand, should we consider including the seasonal flu vaccine along with it?

Vaccine mandates

The Biden administrations recently announced its plans to require all employers with 100 or more employees to arrange for their workers to be vaccinated or test regularly. The mandate will likely impact over 80 million workers in the private sector. Health care and federal workers are also subject to new vaccination mandates.

Many universities, colleges, and secondary schools also have vaccination requirements, specifically for enrollment. And these requirements shift in light of changing circumstances:  A 2017 mumps outbreak across the broader Harvard and MIT communities prompted universities to revisit vaccine statuses for mumps (typically included in the MMR vaccine). More recently, many institutions of higher education have implemented COVID-19 vaccination requirements, which have subsequently met legal challenges.

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Herndon, USA - April 27, 2020: Virginia Fairfax County building exterior sign entrance to Mom's Organic Market store with request to wear face mask due to covid-19 pandemic.

Are Employers That Ditch Mask Mandates Liable for COVID-19 Infections at Work?

By Chloe Reichel

Last week, in response to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance indicating that vaccinated individuals need not wear face coverings indoors, a number of states and businesses swiftly did away with indoor mask mandates.

Widespread criticism followed, focusing on the dangerous policy vacuum that now exists. The CDC has suggested unvaccinated individuals follow an honor system and continue masking — but such an honor system is difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.

In the absence of indoor mask policies, individuals face increased risk of exposure to the virus. And some groups are particularly at risk of contracting the virus now, including immunocompromised individuals, for whom vaccines may not confer protection, and children under the age of 12, for whom a vaccine has not yet been authorized.

To better understand the new guidance and its implications for workers who are no longer protected by mask mandates, I spoke with Sharona Hoffman, an expert in health and employment law. Hoffman is the Edgar A. Hahn Professor of Law, a professor of bioethics, and Co-Director of Law-Medicine Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. In our interview, Hoffman explained whether an employer may be held liable if an employee contracts COVID-19 after an occupational exposure, and highlighted other key issues to anticipate regarding COVID-19 and the workplace.

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