Are vaccine requirements the new normal?

Coronavirus

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(WETM) – As the vaccine rolls out to wider populations in the United States, people are questioning whether this will become a normalized requirement. Can private industries, like employers, airline companies, or restaurants, require vaccination for employees or customers?

“The First Amendment only applies to the government, so it would not apply to a private employer. It would apply to government employer on whatever level but however there are Federal Civil Rights laws that do protect religious people against certain forms of discrimination by employers,” Professor Nelson Tebbe of Cornell Law said.

The new CDC requirements allow vaccinated individuals to socialize with other vaccinated people without masks or social distancing.

“If you are vaccinated and have friends who are vaccinated or family members who are vaccinated you can safely get together in your home with them without masking,” infectious disease physician and director of the Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Prevention program at the Center for Community Health & Prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center Dr. Ghinwa Dumyati added.

You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.

You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.

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“They’re designed to allow more freedom in what we do without going berserk,” immunologist and Weill Cornell Medicine professor Dr. John Moore continued.

Will vaccines become a normalized requirement to return back to daily activities and does that infringe on our basic freedoms?

“Under current Supreme Court doctrine, if a law is applicable in the same way to everybody, religious people presumptively don’t get a special exemption from that law [despite First Amendment protections],” Professor Tebbe stated.

Vaccinations could be required in industries like travel. For example, if you have to show proof of vaccination to travel, domestic or international, and the condition applies to all citizens, then religious citizens or other’s who claim First Amendment rights would not get an exemption from the rule.

There have been precedent-setting mandates that exempt some people from these national mandates.

“People with religious or philosophical objections to vaccines [could be included],” Professor Tebbe said.

There have been medical objections as well. These exemptions speak to the balance of protecting the public’s interest versus respecting the individual’s rights.

“Then, the question arises up about fairness or even handedness,” Professor Tebbe continued.

That is where we are right now. Until we reach herd immunity, private industries like employers could require employees or customers to be vaccinated to go back to work or enter the establishment.

“We’re so far below, you know, kind of community protection, Federal anti discrimination law, you know, dealing with employment would not probably give them protection,” Professor Tebbe concluded.

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