The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has opened the door for more businesses, public or private, to require COVID-19 vaccines.
The opinion, which was written on July 6, was released on Monday after the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to mandate vaccines for some of its employees, namely 115,000 of its frontline health care workers.
The DOJ memo says that emergency status does not prohibit employers, universities or other entities from requiring vaccinations. Controversy stems from language in the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act stating that employees have a right to refuse vaccines, but the DOJ lawyers said the plain language of the section on emergency use authorization, known as EUA, concerns only the provision of information to vaccine recipients.
The memo released on Monday is not a binding authority, and therefore does not guarantee a court approval of a vaccine mandate, but it does provide a boost to those considering a mandate.