More NJ companies consider mandatory vax for workers
As government agencies and the private sector grapple with whether to make COVID vaccines a condition of employment, the expected full approval of at least one the vaccine may make the decision easier.
The FDA has granted only "emergency use" authorization to three COVID vaccines, made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson. Pfizer if the first drug maker to petition for full approval. A decision is expected in early September, perhaps by Labor Day.
If that approval is granted, it could clear the way for vaccine mandates in both the public and private sector.
While many legal experts have said employers are within their rights to mandate the vaccine and other COVID restrictions now, there has been enough of a grey area surrounding the "emergency use," that many companies have hesitated. Former FDA associate commissioner Peter Pitts told NBC News, "I think a lot of large enterprises, public and private, are waiting for approval to mandate vaccines for students and employees." President Joe Biden has also stated he supports mandatory vaccines and for those companies who do mandate it, he will "have their back."
We have seen major hospital groups in New Jersey require it, and some have begun terminating employees who have refused. East Brunswick was the first municipality to require vaccination for all municipal employees, but has since rescinded that order. A Greek restaurant in Bergen County was the first in New Jersey to require vaccinations for indoor dining. New York City will require proof of vaccination status for indoor dining and many other events and activities starting in September.
There is also the issue of whether COVID shots will be added to the required list of vaccinations to attend school in New Jersey. For now, the vaccine is only available to kids 12 and older, but the FDA may approve the drug for use in infants, toddlers and above in the coming weeks. New Jersey State Senator Joe Vitale, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, has already stated he supports making the vaccine mandatory for school attendance.
Full approval could also lead to other changes. While the vaccine is free, for now, Pfizer could begin charging for its drug. They could also engage in paid advertising campaigns.
Approval would also allow doctors and other health care providers to begin writing prescriptions for it, and suggesting patients receive additional booster doses.
President Biden's Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has suggested more people would get vaccinated if the FDA granted full approval because it would convince more hesitant individuals that it was safe. The impact on the unvaccinated remains unclear, but a survey form the Kaiser Family Foundation did find that 3 in 10 unvaccinated adults say they would be more likely to get the jab if the drugs had full FDA approval.