With all the attention a small outbreak of measles in the U.S. has caused, a number of employers are asking if they're permitted by law to require their employees to be fully vaccinated.

It's an excellent legal question.

The short answer is maybe. It really depends on your industry. 

If you're an educational or healthcare institution (i.e., hospital, health clinic, nursing home, etc.)—you may require vaccination so long as you grant exemptions for health or religious reasons.

What about employers in other industries?  

In these instances, you may not mandate immunizations, but you can encourage them.


On the matter of exemptions—Connecticut employers who are legally permitted to require vaccinations must provide a reasonable accommodation for employees who claim a religious or medical exemption (and at least one Federal court has ruled that even veganism is a legitimate reason to claim an exemption) from vaccination.

An educational or healthcare employer does not have to accommodate an employee who objects to a vaccine on mere philosophical grounds but doesn't have an ADA disability or religious objection.

On a side note, do disease protection tactics like the flu vaccine provide the level of protection often advertised?  

If you're an educational or healthcare institution you may require vaccinations.

Here's how well the flu vaccine protected U.S. citizens this past year (2018-2019):

• According to interim estimates, the overall adjusted effectiveness of the 2018-19 flu vaccine against all influenza virus infection associated with acute respiratory illness was 29%.

• Among adults over 50, the vaccine had a 24% effectiveness against all influenza types, and an abysmal 8% against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 infection, which was by far the most common type.

It's worth noting that year-to-year, the effectiveness of flu vaccines varies—and is typically below 50%.

About the author: Joe McQuade is a partner at the labor and employment law firm of Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Hartford.