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Can Employers Require COVID-19 Vaccinations?

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When the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available in the U.S. next year, employers may face a tough question: whether they should - or even can - require their staff to get vaccinated.

Diane Hoffmann, a professor of law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and the founder of the Maryland Healthcare Ethics Committee, said the law does allow some employers, like hospitals, to require vaccinations.

“Only where it is job related or is considered a business necessity can it be mandated,” she said.

Hoffmann said that with COVID-19, that criteria may apply to even more businesses.

“You'd have to look at the number of employees and the specific work that they're doing, whether they're having to work side by side with other employees, or have some kind of face to face interaction with the public,” she said.

Five University of Maryland Medical System front line workers were among the first to get COVID-19 vaccines today.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.