Public Health

Biden vows Covid vaccine push after Supreme Court ruling on vaccinate mandate

A healthcare worker prepares a syringe containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination center operated by SOMOS Community Care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Manhattan on January 29, 2021 in New York City .

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The Supreme Court ruling that barred the Biden administration’s Covid vaccination mandate for employees of large employers will not prevent US companies from requiring vaccinations for their workers.

President Joe Biden vowed Thursday to urge companies to do just that to save American lives and prevent even more financial fallout from the two-year coronavirus pandemic.

“The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the powers granted to it by Congress to require this action, but that does not prevent me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing, to protect the health and economy of Americans,” Biden said in a statement.

“I urge business leaders to immediately join those who have already risen — including a third of Fortune 100 companies — in implementing immunization requirements to protect their workers, customers and communities,” Biden said.

The Supreme Court earlier Thursday blocked a rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration last fall that would have required companies with at least 100 employees to either have workers vaccinated against Covid-19 or wear masks at work and test negative for the virus at least once per week Week.

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The Supreme Court said in its decision that while OSHA had the authority granted by Congress to regulate occupational hazards, the agency did not have the authority “to regulate broader public health.”

Kathryn Bakich, senior vice president who focuses on workplace compliance issues for employee benefits consultancy Segal, said, “Although the Supreme Court upheld the federal government’s OSHA rule, the ruling does not affect whether an individual employer a vaccination mandate can impose on its workforce.”

Bakich noted that the same day the Supreme Court approved a Biden administration mandate for vaccinations of millions of health care workers at employers who treat patients covered by the massive federal health care programs Medicare and Medicaid.

“Employers should not read into the decision a lack of support for vaccines, workplace immunization requirements, or meaningful public health actions,” Bakich said.

The National Retail Foundation hailed the ruling, which blocked the mandate for large companies, as a “significant victory” for employers.

The NRF noted in a statement that it had joined more than two dozen other trade bodies this week to take oral action against the mandate, which it described as “onerous and unprecedented”.

However, the retail foundation also said it had “maintained a strong and consistent position on the importance of vaccines in overcoming this pandemic”.

And pending Biden’s later statement on the ruling, the NRF said it “urges the Biden administration to scrap this unlawful mandate and instead work with employers, workers and public health experts on practical ways to increase immunization rates and curb disease.” spread of the virus to work in 2022.”

David Gordon, a partner at New York law firm Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, said that following the Supreme Court ruling, employers are now free to set their own requirements, subject to applicable state and local laws.

Gordon noted, “This decision makes no difference to employers in New York City and employers in other jurisdictions that require all workers to be vaccinated.”

“Employers at these locations remain subject to current vaccination requirements,” he said.

But Gordon also said the ruling will allow a large employer to make a vaccination decision that reflects competition in the job market for workers.

“In terms of recruitment, the conditions for large employers are no longer given,” said Gordon. “Now, if a large employer believes that it would be beneficial not to require employees to be vaccinated, they are free to not issue a vaccination mandate if their location allows it.”

Starbucks said last month that all American workers at the giant coffee shop chain must be vaccinated or tested by February 9.

Previously, major employers, including American Express, Amtrak, Citigroup, General Electric, Google, Jeffries, NBCUniversal, Southwest Airlines, Tyson Foods and United Airlines, had imposed vaccination requirements on employees, or at least employees returning to physical offices.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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