LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Federal regulators are expected to review the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine later this week and there are questions about whether employers could force workers to receive the shots as part of their jobs.
The Pfizer vaccine is set to be reviewed on Thursday and if given emergency use authorization, the shots could be put into the arms of Nevadans soon after.
So far, the vaccine has shown to be more than 90% effective with no serious side effects or complications in clinical human trials.
"The first question is there has to be proof that the vaccine is safe and effective," said Rich Dreizter, a labor and employment attorney.
Dreitzer says once government regulators approve a vaccine he thinks Nevada employers will be within their legal rights to force workers to get vaccinated, especially with jobs on the Las Vegas strip which require interaction with the public.
"That is a pretty compelling justification for an employer to say, take the vaccine or you don't have a job here anymore," added Dreitzer.
There are two exceptions for the vaccine requirement, including religious beliefs or if a person can prove a medical reason why they are unable to get the vaccine.
"We see today, there is a large segment of people that feel vaccines are unsafe, I think they're called anti-vaxxers, I think that is going to be a tough sell in terms of getting a court to say 'because of my political beliefs I should be able to decline to take a vaccine and still keep my job," explained Dreitzer.
Dreitzer says there will likely be some form of legal challenges adding Nevada's powerful employee unions may take issue with mandates from companies without going through collective bargaining agreements or negotiations first.
"I'm not a person that believes anybody should be forced to do anything, I know some countries are taking the approach that everyone will get vaccinated," said Dr. Michael Levin who is heading up research for local COVID-19 vaccine trials.
"I'd like to maintain in this country, the choice," added Levin.
Levin points out, tens of thousands of people have been given the shots and closely monitored.
No one he has examined has suffered serious reactions from the vaccines that are set to be reviewed by government authorities.
"For the people who don't want to take it, I'd say, that's their choice, but they should certainly have reservations, continue to be safe by not getting infected, try not to spread it to other people and they can wait six months, a year and see what the long term results will be from giving it to hundreds of thousands, and millions of people," said Levin.
Dreitzer says other factors may influence people's willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it is made available such as Nevada's high unemployment rate.
A recent survey by Nature Research shows about 75% of Americans say they will get the vaccine if it is deemed safe, effective and available.