COVID-19 vaccine: Pfizer approval gives companies vaccine mandate protections

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Pfizer vaccine has officially been approved by the FDA. The approval comes after more than 92 million people have already received the Pfizer vaccine, according to the CDC.

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Now more companies are expected to require vaccinations.

It’s a reality many people are already facing. UNF Nursing student Kaitlyn Hevner is fighting her program’s vaccine requirement.

“Just because you decide to be a nurse or go into the medical field you don’t abdicate your individual rights to self-determination,” Hevner says.

She’s not alone. Other workers like Jordan Rios say it’s important to make your own decision.

“If it is approved by the FDA and it’s proven safe to have that it would definitely be good to get. But I still think that people are able to make their own bodily autonomy.”

Now that Pfizer has been officially approved by the FDA, companies have more protection when requiring the vaccine. Kaitlyn Hevner says she will continue to fight, as she believes it is her right to continue her education despite her decision.

“I know that covid has affected people and it breaks my heart and it’s in our community, and country, and world and I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have the right to get the vaccine, I’m saying we have the right to our medical freedom,” she says.

But legal rights mean business can make their own actions.

“Individual businesses, private corporations, or not government entities, those individuals can mandate that employees have the vaccination or they can’t come to work.”

Action News Jax legal and safety expert Dale Carson says private companies have the right to require the vaccine. It’s the government that does not.

“The federal government can’t mandate someone to have an injection,” Carson says.

Carson says the hospital Hevner is trying to do rotations at has the right to require the vaccine.

“The law is that private corporations and private businesses are allowed to require employees to meet certain conditions prior to employment.”

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Hevner is asking for reasonable accommodations to be made if she cannot do her rotations. Her case has not been settled, but if she’s not able to graduate, she says she will take legal action. Our legal expert says she won’t be the only one.

“It’s a complex issue that ultimately is going to end up before the US Supreme Court,” Carson says.