WASHINGTON - Lawyers with the Justice Department determined that federal law does not prohibit public agencies and private businesses from mandating COVID-19 vaccines under emergency use authorization according to an opinion posted by the DOJ on Monday, FOX News reported.
Three major government entities – the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, California and New York City – said Monday they would require some or all of their government employees to get vaccinated or be tested weekly. The vaccines are still awaiting full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
"As access to the COVID-19 vaccines has become widespread, numerous educational institutions, employers, and other entities across the United States have announced that they will require individuals to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, enrollment, participation, or some other benefit, service, relationship, or access," DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote in an opinion. "For instance, certain schools will require vaccination in order for students to attend class in person, and certain employers will require vaccination as a condition of employment."
In the opinion, the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel also notes that under emergency use authorizations (EUAs) no law can prohibit "public or private entities from imposing vaccine requirements, even when the only vaccines available are those authorized under EUAs."
Last week, during a White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that every White House official had been offered a COVID-19 vaccine, but clarified Friday that the White House was not requiring officials to be vaccinated.
"No, we have not mandated it," Psaki responded, after being asked whether the administration was mandating White House staff receive a coronavirus vaccine.
But across the country health care workers and some state and city employees are being mandated to get COVID-19 vaccines as medical experts fear the current low rates in vaccination could overwhelm the nation’s health care system.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Monday that VA health care personnel will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The agency said VA employees will have eight weeks to be fully vaccinated from the virus amid concern over a rise in novel coronavirus cases and the highly transmissible delta variant.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. FOX News contributed.