Cost of being unvaccinated rising as more employers require vaccines, penalize unvaccinated workers

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — Job loss, alternative rules or even paying extra on health insurance are all side effects unvaccinated people could see in the workplace.

Amber Boyd Moorman is a local employment attorney at Amber K. Boyd Attorney at Law. She said she’s been getting a bunch of questions about employers mandating the COVID-19 vaccine and what rights employees have.

“I have been receiving so many phone calls from people asking, ‘Hey, is it legal for my employer to ask about my vaccination status?'” Boyd said.

She said the short answer is yes. Employers can require vaccines and ask employees for their vaccination status. She said the only option left to most employees is asking for accommodations to be made.

“You have people still continuing to work from home, mandating a mask, so you have to wear masks or social distancing you from other employees,” Boyd said.

But she said actually getting accommodations isn’t likely unless you have an exemption like religion or disability.

Another negative effect of being unvaccinated is the possibility of paying more for health insurance.

“Employers generally can provide incentives for vaccines and other kinds of wellness activities,” said Kosali Simon, a professor at the IU O’Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs

As for incentives or penalties, Delta Airlines announced employees on its health insurance plan will have to pay an extra $200 if they’re unvaccinated.

Simon said companies have full legal right to do that according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“They made it clear that employers can do things like have surcharges for unvaccinated employees,” Simon said.

Outside of job loss and costlier health insurance, there’s always the possibility of actually getting COVID-19.

Doctors we’ve talked to recently said the vast majority of severe cases they’re seeing right now is from the unvaccinated. While most people do recover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 10% to 30% of people who had COVID will have long-haul symptoms.

“Even if you get a mild symptom, even if you are in your 20s and 30s, you could have these long-term symptoms related to this disease,” said Dr. Robin Ledyard, the chief medical officer for Community Health Network.

Each of the experts said they only expect vaccine mandates and penalties for the unvaccinated to grow now that the Pfizer vaccine has full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

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