New wave of private employer vaccine mandates likely in NJ
With the FDA giving final approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, a wave of new employee vaccine mandates are expected.
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce announced Monday, within hours of the FDA approval, that all employees would be required to get a COVID vaccine, and enforcement "would begin immediately."
Chamber CEO Tom Bracken stopped short of encouraging New Jersey companies to do the same, but said in a statement, "Employers across New Jersey should continue to encourage their employees to get vaccinated, especially in light of the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine.”
In addition, Bracken says all people attending NJ Chamber events must either show proof of being vaccinated or provide proof of a negative COVID test.
President Joe Biden celebrated the Pfizer approval, and encouraged all employers to require the vaccine as a condition of employment. "The pandemic of the unvaccinated is a tragedy that is preventable," Biden said, "It only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread."
The president had previously said he would "have the back" of any employer who imposed a vaccine mandate on their workers.
The Pentagon was among the first government agencies to announce a mandate. All 1.4 million active-duty troops will be required to get the shot.
In New Jersey, major hospital groups including RWJBarnabas Health and Hackensack Meridian Health imposed vaccine mandates on employees even before the governor required it of all healthcare workers.
Most U.S. economists say the key to a return to normal working conditions is vaccine mandates. A survey released by the National Association for Business Economics shows 79% of economists in favor of vaccine mandates.
Governor Murphy has not specifically said if he supports vaccine mandates for private businesses, but has been supportive of all efforts to increase the number who get the jab in New Jersey. Demand for vaccinations has fallen off significantly over the last few months. As of Monday, nearly 5.5 million people were considered fully vaccinated.
New Jersey has published guidance for employers who want to require the vaccine as a condition of employment. The guidance states vaccine mandates are legal, as long as accommodations are made for religious or medical reasons.
An employer can require that an employee receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to the workplace, unless the employee cannot get the vaccine because of a disability, because their doctor has advised them not to get the vaccine while pregnant or breast-feeding, or because of a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. - Covid19.NJ.Gov
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also encouraging members to require vaccines of all employees, saying it was a prudent step to "protect public health and our economic recovery." All Chamber employees and visitors to their officers and events will have to prove vaccination status.
Some of the nation's largest companies, including Microsoft, Google, Citicorp, United Airlines and Tyson have already announced vaccine mandates.