Some lawmakers back bill to prevent employers from making COVID-19 vaccine mandatory

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Lawmakers in Springfield could soon consider a measure that would prevent employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of employment.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, would only apply to vaccines approved under the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency-use authorization.

“While vaccinations are in an emergency review process, I don’t think it’s appropriate that any business, government, or other agency would require them,” Sosnowski said. “Once they receive full FDA approval, that’s a different story, as we see with requirements for flu vaccinations for medical personnel and at hospitals.”

Sosnowski said this measure would help protect the individual rights of employees around the state.

“All this is requiring is that there’d be a full FDA approval before there could be any requirement,” Sosnowski said. “We think it’s a fair compromise and something that’s reasonable for the state of Illinois.”

Sosnowski said he’s not anti-vaccine, but worries about a possible precedent being set for the future.

“It becomes a little bit worrisome in the mad rush to mandate and require everything because then it opens the door for future vaccinations,” Sosnowski said. “Again, we want to give people the choice. We want to take into account public safety.”

Recent guidance from the EEOC makes clear federal law would allow employers to require vaccinations that protect the health and safety of others, including COVID-19 vaccines. Sosnowski said this measure would carve out an exemption in the state.

“That’s already protected by federal laws. At the state level, we can’t do anything to change that,” Sosnowski said. “This is just dealing with emergency-issue vaccinations only.”

After full FDA approval, these restrictions would not apply, leaving the door open for requirements in the future.

“I just think there is some concern out there,” Sosnowski said. “Considering that it’s not fully FDA approved and it is under an emergency order right now, we can take a slow methodical approach.”

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