Private businesses and public agencies cannot be barred by federal law from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
This is via an opinion issued July 26, but dated July 6, by the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel, which came just hours after a Department of Veterans Affairs mandate requiring vaccinations for certain employees.
Emergency use authorization
The Department of Veterans Affairs is the first federal agency to issue such a mandate, according to Politico. This order gives physicians, dentists, nurses and other frontline medical staff eight weeks to get fully vaccinated.
The DOJ opinion clarifies businesses and public agencies aren’t prohibited from requiring the vaccine under an emergency use authorization contained in the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that was issued in April also states employers can require vaccinations for all employees who must physically enter the workplace.
Despite the EEOC guidance in April, the commission didn’t answer questions surrounding potential legal issues of COVID-19 vaccines that didn’t have full FDA approval, which kept “many businesses from mandating the shots,” Politico states.
New York City, California, NFL issue mandates
New York City, the State of California and the National Football League have all recently instituted vaccine mandates.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced July 26 that New York City municipal employees will either have to be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 tests.
On the same day, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced all state employees and health care workers must either be vaccinated or subjected to regular coronavirus testing.
The NFL told its teams outbreaks among unvaccinated players could result in forced forfeits of games and placed a “multimillion-dollar financial incentive on teams and players to get vaccinated.”