Can your employer require you to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

12 on 12: Vaccine 101

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Many 12 News’ viewers say they’re wondering if employers can make them get the COVID-19 vaccine, once it becomes available to them.

12 News asked the R.I. Department of Health, and a spokesperson said simply, employers make their own policies.

There is no direct or clear federal guidance on this just yet, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission legally allows companies to require employees to get their flu shot.

One labor attorney told CBS News it’s likely there will be a similar expectation with the vaccine, with an exception under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The same goes if someone says the vaccine violates their religious beliefs.

State officials say it will likely take months to move through Rhode Island’s four phase vaccine distribution plan.

Dr. Christian Arbelaez, Rhode Island Hospital’s attending physician and vice chair of academic affairs and emergency medicine, was the first to be vaccinated. He said that he’s looking forward to enjoying the little things again, in the normal we once knew.

“It’s a war where we don’t see the enemy,” Arbelaez said. “It’s a privilege that we have to be a front line provider for these patients and meet them, and be ready for them, and I don’t take that lightly.”

In Fall River, Charlton Memorial Hospital is set to receive its first batch of vaccines Tuesday morning. A spokesperson says employees can sign up for the vaccine online Monday night, and the first shots could be administered around noon Tuesday.

Here’s when you may be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Massachusetts »

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