On Monday, August 23, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) formally approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older. With this new and much-anticipated approval from the FDA, the Department of Defense immediately mandated the Pfizer vaccine for all military service members. Nationwide, many companies are now strongly considering requiring their employees to be vaccinated or risk being let go. These companies are using the FDA’s recent approval as an opportunity to mandate the vaccine in an effort to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. Companies still have an obligation, however, to engage in the interactive process and potentially offer a reasonable accommodation to employees who are not able to receive the vaccine due to a disability or sincerely-held religious belief.
*Vanessa Rodriguez, a third year law student serving an externship with Snell & Wilmer, contributed to this article. Vanessa Rodriguez is not a licensed attorney.