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Can businesses require COVID-19 vaccines? One employment lawyer says yes

Last Updated Dec 1, 2020 at 3:50 pm PST

FILE - This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning doctors about a rare but serious condition in children linked with the coronavirus. In an alert issued Thursday, the CDC called the condition multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. (NIAID-RML via AP, File)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Can your employer make it mandatory for you to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Several organizations are calling on businesses to look into making the shot mandatory for their workers but that has some questioning the legality of requiring a vaccine.

According to employment lawyer Howard Leavitt, employers should have the right to enforce the vaccines.

“Generally speaking, I think it is a legitimate requirement because it protects the health and safety of the other employees and members of the public who enter the premises.”

Leavitt added this does not infringe on personal rights because it’s an issue of public safety.

“If their employer is in a context where other employees are there or the people they’re caring for, like long-term care homes, are vulnerable, I think they would be negligent not to require everyone to have a vaccine.”

Leavitt acknowledged there are exceptions to this rule including exempting employees who are working remotely or in isolation from other people, or if an employee can prove the vaccine would have a negative health impact on them.

RELATED: Alberta government looking at removing mandatory vaccine powers

Last fall, the Alberta government said it does not support the idea of mandatory vaccines and Health Minister Tyler Shandro went so far as to say he’s in favour of repealing a part of the Public Health Act that gives the government the power to mandate vaccines during a health emergency.

In October, a poll from Leger and Associates showed that about 39 per cent of those polled believe the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandated. That’s down from as high as 60 per cent in April and July.

As of Tuesday, four candidates for a vaccine have come forward with the federal government anticipating the shots could start rolling out early next year.

-with files from The Canadian PressĀ