Federal law does not prohibit public agencies and private companies from requiring COVID-19 vaccines that are subject to emergency use authorization, the Justice Department concluded in an opinion.
Three major government entities – the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, California and New York City – said Monday they would require some or all of their government employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly. The vaccines are still awaiting full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
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“As access to COVID-19 vaccines has become widespread, many educational institutions, employers and other entities across the United States have announced that they will require individuals to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition employment, registration, participation, or other benefit, service, relationship or access, ”the DOJ legal counsel’s office wrote in a notice. “For example, some schools will require vaccination so that students can attend in-person classes, and some employers will require vaccination as a condition of employment. ”
The opinion notes that some have questioned whether these entities can legally impose such requirements.
In the opinion, the DOJ legal adviser’s office says the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) law “does not prohibit public or private entities from imposing vaccine requirements, even when the only vaccines available are those authorized under the USA ”.
The VA became the first federal government agency to announce that it will require employees who come into contact with patients to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
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Last week, during a White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that every White House official had been offered a vaccine against COVID-19, but clarified on Friday that the White House did not require those responsible to be vaccinated.
“No, we didn’t mandate him,” Psaki replied, after being asked if the administration was forcing White House staff to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
Psaki did not provide a specific number on how many White House officials have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, but said they are able to track the number of people on the president’s staff because ” they are vaccinated here in the White House medical unit. ”
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Fox News’ Jake Gibson and David Spunt contributed to this report.