As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread (nearly 500,000 Americans have died), there is some hope for the future. Several vaccines have been approved by the FDA to help prevent the disease. More vaccines are being developed. Booster shots to help prevent serious health consequences from the mutations and variants of COVID-19 are also being developed.
Workers and employers are generally hopeful that the vaccines will mean workers will be able to work at the company site instead of from home. Many employers are considering making vaccination shots mandatory.
While the vaccines offer the promise of a return to normal, vaccines can cause side effects. According to AARP, some side effects show the vaccines are working. Younger people generally have more side effects than seniors (likely due to the less robust immune system in seniors). Many side effects such as fever and fatigue usually subside in a few days. Still, some people, such as those who have an allergic reaction to the vaccine, may have more severe side effects.
Mandatory vaccines may be a workplace injury
According to Business Insurance, employers need to understand that if they make vaccines mandatory for their workers, the employers are going to have to pay for the vaccination (including work time off) and pay for any medical complications due to the vaccine. While the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) state that employer COVID-19 mandates are permissible, employers need to understand they do have workers’ compensation responsibility for the vaccine mandate. The vaccine will likely be covered as a workplace injury if an employee suffers a negative reaction, too.
If an employee opts to get a vaccine and suffers an injury, will workers’ compensation pay for it?
It is unlikely. If an employee chooses to get vaccinated on his or her own time, and suffers an adverse reaction, then he or she cannot claim it was a work-related injury. Instead, that worker will need to make a claim through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP), which covers injuries related to vaccines issued during a pandemic. This particular program is not the easiest to navigate, so anyone who suffers a COVID-19 vaccine-related injury may need legal counsel to ensure he or she follows the strict guidelines for submitting a claim.
The rights of workers during the COVID-19 crisis are evolving. At Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law, our workers’ compensation lawyers understand when you have a work injury claim and when you have a personal injury claim. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 423-756-7923 or use our contact form. We fight for injured and sick employees in Chattanooga or Cleveland, TN, or in North Georgia and the neighboring locations.