Once the Federal Drug Administration has given final approval to a Covid-19 vaccine, an employer may mandate vaccination for employees, Health Commissioner Mark Levine said at Friday’s press conference.
Last month, a Vermont Department of Health said there has been no discussion of mandatory Covid vaccination “by the state.” That qualifier, and similar statements by Health Commissioner Mark Levine, suggest a state-imposed vaccination mandate is unlikely anytime soon. But employer and other institutional mandates- that’s another story.
At today’s press conference, Calvin Cutler of WCAX asked about the possibility of employer mandates. “Institutions may mandate vaccination” once a vaccine is approved by the Federal Drug Administration, Levine answered. However the vaccines to be administered soon have only “emergency use authorization” and thus cannot be mandated, he said. It is unclear how long formal approval would take.
Some industries – notably airlines – are developing digital Covid-19 “passports” that would allow its immune holder more freedom to travel, attending public gatherings, and otherwise circulate more freely than those without. These digital documents are still in the development stages, according to Health.com. “The idea is that once the vaccine is widely available, the passport would be issued to people who have been vaccinated to let them move more freely, both locally and globally, by allowing access to indoor restaurants, movie theaters, and international travel.”
The first batch of vaccine delivered to Vermont, totaling 5850 doses, will be split between at-risk health care providers and recipients, especially residents of senior care facilities.
“Mass” gatherings at Christmastime – Christmas Eve worshippers are encouraged to be “creative” in promoting safety at the traditional gathering this year, Gov. Scott said at the press conference.
Christmas eve is traditionally among the best-attended services of the year. Donna Casullo of Fox 44 asked Gov. Scott if he had any concerns about “Christmas mass.”
“Anytime you you have a mass gathering – I don’t mean that in a religous sense – it’s a concern to us,” Scott said. “We have asked churches to limit gatherings [50% of occupancy] and use the protocols in place.” Twice he urged churches to “be creative” but did not specify.