Is it Legal for Companies to Require Vaccinations?By Carlos Gamino, Wisconsin attorney

With this country’s recent measles outbreak, which has been traced back to Disneyland in California, there’s plenty of talk about what to do to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Naturally, vaccinations are the simple choice: get yourself and your children vaccinated and you have an extremely slim chance of contracting the measles.

In many cases, however, vaccinations are optional. Homeschooled children can fly under the radar when it comes to vaccines, and so can kids whose parents have an exemption. In the state of Wisconsin, parents are allowed to cite religious and philosophical reasons for not vaccinating (medical exemptions have always been allowed, because some people are too at-risk to receive vaccinations that healthy people have no problem receiving). The student immunization law clearly outlines which shots children need to attend school in Wisconsin, but what about adults?

Nobody is keeping up with the adults.

Among the known cases of measles that stemmed from the Disneyland outbreak, five people had received two or more measles vaccinations. At least 32 of the people who were infected were older than 20, as well, so that means nearly 25 percent of the people were adults who should be immune, according to the CDC.

With all that said, some companies are requiring their employees to prove their immunity or get an MMR booster shot. Hospitals are among the places that do the most to ensure employee vaccination, but still, not all of their employees participate. Workers and staff at a Washington hospital filed a federal lawsuit over a mandatory H1N1 vaccine in 2009, and New York dropped their mandatory vaccination rules in fear of lawsuits (and in the face of vaccine shortages).

For the most part, it is legal for employers to require you to get your immunizations. That’s because most employment is “at-will,” so you can quit or be fired at any time. There are a few exceptions, such as those who have employment contracts, those with collective bargaining agreements and those with employers that infringe on religious liberties by forcing vaccinations.

What do you think? Should more employers mandate vaccines, or is that asking too much from society? I’d love to hear your opinion here or on my Facebook page.

Carlos Gamino