Survey: Some local businesses to require employees get vaccine

HOUSTON – As COVID-19 vaccines roll out, the shot could become mandatory for some workers.

A new survey from PNC found more than four-in-ten small and medium-sized businesses in Houston that responded plan to require employees to get vaccinated.

Some support the idea.

“We see that in schools and we see that with healthcare workers who are required to have a flu vaccine and get TB screening,” said Jennifer, a Houston native.

Others said it should be a personal choice.

“Some people may not feel comfortable getting the vaccine and it shouldn’t be required for them to provide for their families or provide for themselves,” said Brianna Cook, a Harris County resident.

The survey was part of an economic outlook and conducted 150 interviews in Houston. The survey was conducted between Jan. 2 and Feb. 26, according to the summary document.

So what does the law say about requiring the shot?

“According to Texas law, the employers here in Texas can require their employees to take the vaccine,” said Houston attorney Sophia George.

George works with the Germer law firm.

“Now, there are always exceptions to the rule and here the exception would be: you have a qualifying disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act or, for example, a qualifying exemption under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act,” she said.

Those could include medical conditions or religious beliefs, in which the burden is then on the employer to provide a reasonable accommodation, George said.

The accommodation could look different. For example, George said a cashier who interacts with customers could be moved to a position in the back of a store where they don’t have to deal with customers face-to-face but keep their job.

KPRC 2 also reached out to the Greater Houston Partnership about this topic.

“The Partnership is urging businesses to encourage their employees to get vaccinated as employees are able to do so. The question of mandating employees get vaccinated is a legal one and businesses should seek out legal advice to understand what is appropriate,” a spokesperson said in an email.

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