More States and Cities Require Workers to Get COVID-19 Vaccines


The recent spike in COVID-19 cases has prompted more states and cities to require certain workers in health care and other high-risk settings to get vaccinated against the coronavirus or follow stringent safety requirements.

We've rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other trusted media outlets on the news.

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Delta Variant Drives New Mandates

As the highly transmittable COVID-19 delta variant spread in July, California and New York City announced that they would require public employees and some health care workers to get vaccinated or submit to regular testing. Shortly thereafter, New York state issued a similar directive and New York City added that indoor restaurants, bars and gyms will need to ask customers and workers for proof of vaccination.

(The Economist)

Virginia Responds to Uptick in COVID-19 Cases

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also announced that state employees will be required to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. "The arrival of the delta variant, combined with the number of people who are not vaccinated, is driving our case counts back up," Northam said during a press conference. "The way that we're going to win this war is to roll up our sleeve and get vaccinated." He called on businesses and local governments in the state to follow his lead. Almost 66 percent of adults in Virginia are fully vaccinated, but daily average coronavirus cases recently rose to more than 1,200 from a low of 129 on June 20.

(The New York Times)

Connecticut, New Jersey and Puerto Rico Join Trend

A Connecticut order gives certain health care employees until Sept. 7 to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine and have an appointment scheduled to receive the second dose (if they haven't already received it).

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also issued an executive order requiring that employers in covered health care and high-risk congregate settings mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for workers, create a system to track the results of applicable testing requirements, and create a system to communicate the results to local public health departments. The law takes effect on Sept. 7.

Additionally, Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi issued an executive order mandating vaccination for all public employees in the executive branch. Certain workers in Massachusetts, Washington and Washington, D.C., also must follow stringent COVID-19 vaccination and safety requirements.  

(Jackson Lewis)

Federal Government Implements Stricter Policies

President Joe Biden announced on July 29 that federal employees will be required to confirm that they are vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to frequent testing for COVID-19. "We are now faced with a much more transmissible strain of this virus—the delta variant," the White House said. "The good news is that we are prepared for this. We know how to stop it: Get more people vaccinated."

Additionally, service members in the U.S. Armed Forces will be required to get inoculated by mid-September under a plan recently announced by the Pentagon.

(SHRM Online)

More Large Companies Require COVID-19 Vaccination

On July 30, The Walt Disney Co. gave its U.S.-based salaried and nonunion, hourly employees 60 days to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Walmart also will require employees at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., and certain employees who travel in the U.S. to get vaccinated by Oct. 4, unless an exception applies. Additionally, Tyson Foods will require many U.S.-based workers to get vaccinated and is aiming to have all processing-plant and corporate employees comply by Nov. 1. California-based employers, such as Google, Facebook and Netflix, have also implemented stricter vaccine and testing policies.

(SHRM Online)

Do State Bans on Vaccine Passports Impact Employer Policies?

While some states have issued vaccine and testing mandates, officials in other states are blocking businesses and government agencies from requiring people to produce vaccine passports—documentation that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19. But attorneys said that in most states, private employers can continue to require proof of vaccination.

Additionally, a federal judge temporarily blocked Florida's ban on vaccine passports while litigation ensues. Norwegian Cruise Lines challenged the state's order, arguing that the cruise line should be able to require passengers to show proof of vaccination to curb the spread of COVID-19 on ships and at destinations. U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams said Florida officials failed to "provide a valid evidentiary, factual or legal predicate" for the order.

(SHRM Online) and (Politico)

Consider These Steps When Asking Employees About Vaccination Status

Employers may have legitimate business reasons to ask employees about their vaccination status, but employers should be careful not to dig too deep into any inquiry. Here are some tips for employers that decide to ask workers for proof of their vaccination status.

(SHRM Online)


[Want to learn more about COVID-19 and workplace safety? Join us at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, taking place Sept. 9-12 in Las Vegas and virtually.]



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