The debate about COVID-19 vaccine mandates is heating to a boiling point. Hospitals are understaffed due to losing workers who would rather be fired than get the shots. Schools are considering staff wide mandates – and in the case of California, possibly student body mandates for the vaccine.
With so much controversy surrounding the relatively new vaccine, its potential side effects, and personal liberty concerns about imposing mandates, many workers have filed religious exemptions to avoid getting the vaccine.
How to get a religious exemption
In order to receive a religious exemption, a worker must fill out an application and submit it to their employer. The application is then evaluated and either approved or denied. Factors such as past religious exemptions from other vaccines and objections to other mainstream medical procedures such as prescription painkillers are considered.
Documentation proving past religious exemptions from other vaccines can help prove an applicant’s sincerity in seeking to obtain one for the COVID-19 vaccine. Many employees filing the paperwork have never objected to past vaccines, and that is taken into account by the decision makers.
How are applications approved or denied?
Updated guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force cautions that “determining whether an exception is legally required will include consideration of factors such as…the reasonably foreseeable effects on the agency’s operations, including protecting other agency employees and the public from COVID-19.”
So, each application for religious exemption will be weighed against the risks of another unvaccinated person mingling with other employees and members of the general public. The effects on the greater populace will be considered when approving or denying each individual’s request to not get the vaccine.
Employers are legally allowed to question employees about the applications. Church attendance is not necessarily a deciding factor; religious beliefs and practices that take place outside of traditional religious institutions can still be counted as legitimate reasons for refusing the vaccine. Scrutiny is mainly placed on the person’s sincerely held beliefs and convictions.
Overall effect of religious exemptions
Data is not available for overall numbers of religious exemptions granted for COVID-19 shots. Numbers of applicants for this workaround to the mandate have shot up across the board in many industries, though. Each individual’s success in obtaining an exemption and keeping their job depends on a number of variables, so results are not necessarily predictable.
The net effect will be evident in the near future, though. With medical professionals pushing back and choosing to lose their jobs rather than get the jab and vital industries such as public schools entering the mandate wars, the approval or denial of these exemptions will have a larger ripple effect on society in general.