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VERIFY: Yes, private employers can mandate getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Employees in Georgia who don't want to get the vaccine just for the sake of not getting the vaccine can be terminated.

MACON, Ga. — Rolling up your sleeve will soon be mandatory for some healthcare workers in Central Georgia, which has some of you wondering if that's legal. 

We spoke to Emory University Law Professor Ani Satz, checked federal court records, and also talked to Mercer University Law Professor Bill Hervey.

Atrium Health Navicent is giving its employees three months to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

That's according to their hospital's spokesperson Amy McCord.

The Medical Center, Atrium Health Navicent says their vaccine mandate comes down from their North Carolina-based parent company, Atrium Health.

Last month, Navicent reported to the federal government that about 57 percent of their Macon staff was vaccinated.

So is it legal for private employers to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine?

According to Emory University Law Professor Ani Satz, the answer is yes.

Satz said, "The equal employment opportunity commission clarified this legal position and updated technical assistance on May 28th of this year. That assistance clearly states and resolves any prior confusion, the vaccine shots, which are currently available, may in fact be mandated by employers for their employees."

In April, in Texas, Houston Methodist Hospital announced a policy requiring their employees be vaccinated by June 7th.

A group of employees took that to federal court, but a judge sided with the hospital.

"Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer," said Judge Lynn Hughes.

Satz also said, "So the fact that a federal court has made this cleared and has laid out the reasoning can be used persuasively by other courts, although each jurisdiction has it's own law, so it's not setting precedent for us here in Georgia, but it is a persuasive voice that lays out the arguments for why mandatory vaccine is possible."

So, yes, but Bill Hervey with Mercer University says there are some exceptions.

Hervey said, "As long as they make exception for disabilities and religious beliefs."

Now, Atrium Health Navicent says they will consider medical and religious exemptions, but all others must get the shots by October 31st.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, 40 percent of Georgians are fully vaccinated.

Employees in Georgia who don't want to get the vaccine just for the sake of not getting the vaccine can be terminated.


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