Employment attorney weighs in on what full FDA approval of Pfizer vaccine means for employers, employees

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Pfizer has hit another pandemic milestone. The company’s two-dose COVID vaccine got full approval from the FDA for people who are 16 and up. 

“The moment you have been waiting for is here,” said President Joe Biden. “It’s time for you to get your vaccination.”

Many have expressed optimism that this approval will help dissolve some of the lingering hesitancy around taking the shot.  More than 80 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated, and 31% of them said they would get the shot if it was FDA approved.

“Finally, we have that,” said Albert Boula, CEO of Pfizer. “That should be a good reason for them now to go and get vaccines.”

Pfizer also announced that it is working on a vaccine tweaked to be even more effective against Delta. But for now, the existing vaccine seems to be doing very well at keeping the vaccinated from getting seriously sick.

There’s now a push, including from President Biden, for an increase in vaccine mandates within the public and private sector. To find out what rights employees and employers have, News 8 spoke with an employment attorney.

“It will have an impact not only on the employees but the employer’s business overall,” explained Gabe Jiran, Partner at Shipman & Goodwin.

Jiran said there are two main categories for vaccine exemption: religious and medical.

“Aside from those though, if the employee is mandated by their employer and says, ‘no I’m not going to get it,’ they could be fired for it,” said Jiran.

Jiran said several lawsuits have been filed across the country, challenging these mandates. In Texas, for example, a federal judge upheld a hospital’s mandatory vaccination policy dismissing a lawsuit brought by more than 100 employees. 

“I think what you’re going to see is, there are going to be a couple of test cases and employees and/or employers will see how those will turn out,” said Jiran.

As for the other two vaccines, Moderna has also applied for full FDA approval, and J&J hopes to apply later this year.

Governor Ned Lamont applauded this decision, saying it’s an important moment in the fight against the virus. 

Meanwhile, at Yale, they continue with clinical trials on the next big step, which is emergency approval of the Pfizer vaccine for kids as young as 5-years-old. That could happen by Thanksgiving.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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