12 states banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates & how they affect healthcare workers

A dozen governors have signed legislation restricting COVID-19 vaccine mandates in their states, according to a Sept. 9 report from the National Academy for State Health Policy.

Editor's Note: This webpage was updated Oct. 12 and will continue to be updated.

Arizona: On April 19, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey issued an order prohibiting the state from requiring people to prove their COVID-19 vaccination status to enter a business, building or area or to receive a public service. However, healthcare institutions can request COVID-19 vaccination status documentation of patients, residents, employees or visitors.

On June 30, Mr. Ducey signed a bill requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with sincerely held religious beliefs, practices or observances that prevent the employee from getting the COVID-19 vaccine unless the accommodation would pose an undue hardship to the operation of the business. The bill allows healthcare institutions to require employees to be vaccinated.

Arkansas: On April 28, the state enacted a bill prohibiting the state, political subdivisions of the state or public officials from mandating vaccination as a condition of employment. These agencies may not discriminate against or coerce individuals who refuse a COVID-19 vaccine by withholding opportunities for career advancement, wage increases or insurance discounts.

Georgia: On May 25, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said that no state agency can require proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment by the state, conducting business with the state or enjoying other rights provided by the state.

Florida: On April 2, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said businesses are prohibited from requiring customers to verify a COVID-19 vaccination status or post-transmission recovery to gain access to the business. Effective Sept. 16, the state will give $5,000 fines to any public or private entity that requires proof of vaccination, News 4 Jax reported. Since asking for proof of vaccination is part of a vaccine mandate, some companies may pay millions of dollars in fines.

Indiana: On April 29, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a law prohibiting state or local governments from requiring anyone, including employees, to show proof of vaccination.

Montana: On May 7, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill that prohibits discrimination based on vaccination status. This includes prohibiting an employer or government entity to refuse employment to a person or to discriminate against a person in compensation or in a term, condition or privilege of employment based on the person's vaccination status. Additionally, an individual may not be required to receive any vaccine whose use is allowed under an emergency use authorization or any vaccine undergoing safety trials.

New Hampshire: On July 26, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill stating that employers may only mandate immunization as a condition of employment when a "direct threat" exists. A "direct threat" is defined as a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation. State hospitals are exempt from the mandate

North Dakota: On May 7, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill prohibiting state government entities from requiring a private business to obtain documentation to verify an individual's vaccination status. The bill exempts healthcare organizations from the ban.

Oklahoma: On May 28, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an order prohibiting state agencies from requiring that people show proof of vaccination to enter public buildings. The order doesn't apply to employees working in patient-facing settings.

Tennessee: On May 25, Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that prohibits a state agency, department or political subdivision from mandating COVID-19 vaccines.

Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Oct. 11 banning any entity in the state, including private employers, from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The order states that "no entity in Texas" can enforce vaccination against anyone, including an employee or consumer, who objects "for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19."

Utah: On March 16, Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill that prohibits state agencies from requiring people to get a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. However, the bill does not apply to employees who work in a medical setting and are required to receive vaccinations to perform the assigned duties and responsibilities of the job.


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