The FDA approval also gives industry groups reasons to encourage their members’ vaccinations — and to lobby against legislation that could hinder those efforts. The US Chamber of Commerce announced this month that it will mandate vaccines for its staff once the FDA has fully approved them. The Business Roundtable, an influential lobbying group, said Monday it backed mandates.
“Many companies have made the decision to make vaccines mandatory for some or all of their employees, and we welcome their decision,” the group, led by Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon, said in a statement. “We encourage policymakers, including at the state and local levels, to support – not hinder – the ability of companies to make such a decision.”
At least three states — Montana, Texas and Utah — that had banned vaccine requirements by law or executive order did so specifically because the three vaccines used in the United States were administered under emergency approvals, not full approval. Some companies, such as Norwegian Cruise Line in Florida, have opposed such bans, but most have largely stayed out of the fray so far.
In the past month, there have been signs of companies showing an increased interest in vaccine mandates.
Understanding Vaccine and Mask Mandates in the US
- Vaccine Rules. On August 23, the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older, paving the way for an increase in mandates in both the public and private sectors. Private companies increasingly require vaccines for employees. Such mandates are permitted by law and have been confirmed in court proceedings.
- Mask Rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in July that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public places in areas with outbreaks, a reversal of the guidance it offered in May. Find out where CDC guidelines apply and where states have their own masking policies. The battle over masks has become controversial in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are demanding that students be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all of them are in states that voted for President Biden.
- schools. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine mandates for educators. A survey published in August found that many U.S. parents of school-aged children are opposed to mandatory vaccines for students, but were more in favor of mask mandates for students, teachers and staff who have not received their injections.
- Hospitals and Medical Centers. Many hospitals and major health systems require workers to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, citing the increasing caseload fueled by the Delta variant and persistently low vaccination coverage in their communities, even within their workforce.
- New York City. Evidence of vaccination is required from employees and customers for indoor meals, gyms, performances and other indoor situations, although enforcement will not begin until September 13. Teachers and other education workers in the city’s vast school system must have at least one vaccine dose by Sept. 27, without the option of weekly testing. City hospital employees should also receive a vaccine or be tested weekly. Similar rules apply to employees in New York State.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon announced it would aim to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops “by mid-September.” President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees would be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
As of Aug. 7, the proportion of job openings requiring vaccinations was up 90 percent from a month earlier, according to job search firm Indeed. However, those who need vaccinations still make up a small fraction of the total lists.
FDA authorization could also simplify negotiations with unions, whose mixed attitudes to mandates have contributed to a class divide among workers. On Monday, Disney World said unions representing more than 30,000 workers had agreed to a mandate, citing full FDA approval, that workers should be vaccinated by Oct. 22.
But the United Food and Commercial Workers International, a union that represents about 1.3 million workers in supermarkets, pharmacies and meat processing plants, warned Monday about mandates that failed to address workers’ concerns.