Economy expert: workers have options when it comes to new federal vaccine requirements


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – In the wake of President Joe Biden’s announcement of his new, extensive federal vaccine requirements, nearly 100-millon Americans are affected by the decision.

So what does that mean for you locally? WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee reached out to an economy expert from Purdue University Fort Wayne to find out.

On Thursday, the president mandated that all employers with more than 100-workers must require that their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. If the worker refuses, he or she must test for the virus weekly. This affects about 80-million Americans, and roughly 17-million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid.

“Here is what we know, we don’t know a lot right now,” said Rachel Blakeman, the director of PFW Research and Community Institute, “We don’t know when this is going to happen, I anticipate there’s going to be a legal challenge for this. These rules aren’t going to be favorable for a lot of people.”

She added this may appear as mandate, but workers still have a choice. She suggested for workers who don’t want to be constrained by this rule or just oppose due to personal freedom, they can find an employer with less than 100-employees.

Another option a worker has is submitting to weekly testing. Blakeman said that the recommended COVID testing is starting to become an issue. She added that it will be interesting to see if the cost of the test will start to fall on the person.

“Think of that as a market based function. If you have to pay for your test, or you can get the vaccine for free, maybe you are going to choose to get the vaccine,” Blakeman said. “The requirement of that negative test is going to create an administrative burden on the employer. The employer then may decide, ‘you know what, I’m done with this testing business and having to keep track of it. I’m just going to put a vaccine mandate on my employees. We’re going to make that decision’.”

She also predicted that proof of a vaccination card will become routine to be hired for a company, just like providing a social security card, driver’s license, or and proof that a person can legally work in the United States.

“When you bring on a new employee, you have to get documentation, you have to get drivers licenses,” Blakeman said. “This may just become part of what employers have to do when they are bringing on a new employee.

After the announcement WANE 15 reached out to schools, businesses and hospitals in the area, to find out their plans:

“We are closely monitoring the ever changing situation and do not have comments on this specific update to current mandates.” – Vera Bradley

“We have not required vaccinating employees or students. We believe that’s a personal choice between individuals and their healthcare providers.” – Northwest Allen County Schools

“Right now we do not require vaccinations. Since this just came out, we’ll have to review it to determine what effect it will have.” – Fort Wayne Community Schools

“We just heard the information and will have to digest it and what it means to us.” – East Allen County Schools

Fort Wayne Police, Greater Fort Wayne, Do it Best and Parkview Health all responded that with the news being so new, they could not comment at the time.

Lutheran Health Network stated, “Our hospitals and their caregiving teams will work to comply with the President’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination and look forward to further guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about its implementation.”

It is still unclear, when the new requirements will go into affect.

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