Could the Tri-State see a vaccine mandate for employees?

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Since the Pfizer vaccine was approved by the FDA, we may see more businesses start to require their employees to get vaccinated. Ascension St. Vincent and Tyson have made the announcement before approval. Deaconess Health System said it would require employee vaccinations when the FDA gave full approval.

On August 16, the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership hosted a virtual town hall. More than 130 businesses participated, ready to ask questions about what the rules of the road were for safety protocols.

“In the earlier rounds of COVID, there was a lot of direction from local governments and state governments. The direction now is more general and it’s a time for businesses to make the decisions that are kind of best for their businesses and best for their employees,” said Tara Barney of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership.

As of now, businesses have the power to make the decision of whether or not their employees must be vaccinated. But does that mean an employee can be terminated if they choose not to?

Carl Lamb, an attorney in Bloomington, Indiana says, “unless employers, carve out specific exceptions, such as health reasons and religious reasons, I am pretty confident that the employers’ actions will be found to be unconstitutional.”

When asked if those employees can still receive unemployment benefits, Lamb said he thinks there will be inconsistencies between judging on whether there was just cause for termination. He says he is confident that there will be an increase in lawsuits, most likely getting final determination as they head to the Indiana Supreme Court and beyond.

Mandatory vaccinations continue to divide opinion. Supporters say they are in the best interest of public safety, but others disagree.

Lisa Bailey, of Evansville, said, “I feel like it’s up to the person if they want the shot or not. Just the same for the flu vaccine or pneumonia vaccine – it’s up to that person if they wanna get it. I feel like the same thing with this. I don’t think you should be forced to get it – you don’t have to get forced to get the flu shot do you? No. I don’t think you should have to get forced to do this.”

When asked about whether she expects to see many businesses mandate the vaccine, Tara Barney said, “My sense in the questions that have been asked so far is not a lot – because so many businesses an be sensitive to their employees’ concerns by where that employee goes to work. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past year and a half, it’s that there is a place for remote work. It’s not for every business, it’s not for every job, but there is a place for it. I think that’s offering some options that we didn’t anticipate having a year and a half ago.”

We will continue to update you if any businesses make that decision.

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