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Can Idaho employers require employees to get the coronavirus vaccine?

One legal expert told KTVB that, as a general rule, employers can require that employees get vaccinated if they want to stay employed. There are exceptions, though.

BOISE, Idaho — From working from home to requiring masks in the workplace, since the pandemic began, we've seen employers require changes by their staff. 

However, with the promise of a coronavirus vaccine just days or weeks away, can an employer legally require an employee to get vaccinated? 

“The short answer is almost always,” said Dan Williams, a Boise attorney who specializes in employment law.

“Now, let's be clear what we're talking about," Williams added. "Your boss can’t hold you down while somebody shoots you with a vaccine, but as a condition of continued employment, employers can require vaccinations of their employees to maintain a safe workplace for themselves and for the public."

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Some possible exceptions could include a person's religious beliefs or if it turns out one or more of the vaccines should not be administered to people with medical conditions. 

Other than that, Williams told KTVB, as a general rule, employers can require employees to get vaccinated if they want to stay employed. He says under state law, employers have greater leeway and those two exceptions come into play under federal law.

"In Idaho, as in most states, we’re an at-will employment state which means, so long as it's the will of your employer to keep you employed, you're employed, but the second it's no longer their will, you're not," Williams said. "Just like an employee can quit for any reason, an employer can discharge someone for almost any reason."

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