Can Associations Make COVID Vaccinations Mandatory?
COVID-19 vaccine development is looking very promising. Some high-risk groups may even be able to get vaccinated before the end of 2020. As vaccines become widely available, some of your clients, particularly those with older populations, may start wonder if they can — and should — require residents to be vaccinated.
“People aren’t thinking about it yet because there isn’t a vaccine yet,” says Marc Markel, a shareholder in the Texas-based law firm Roberts Markel Weinberg Butler Hailey PC. “But this will be an issue for some communities.”
“From a legal perspective, if the association has the right to regulate the use of its common elements — which most condo and single-family associations do — that’s how they could do it,” Markel says.
“Not for the use of individual homes, but for use of the gym and elevator, for example. In a high-rise building, ostensibly you can’t get to your unit on the 10th floor without going on the elevator.”
On the other hand, Kevin Hirzel, managing member of Hirzel Law, PLC, a Michigan-based firm that works with community associations, is skeptical about requiring vaccines even for common elements.
“I think that type of requirement would be difficult to impose, certainly permanently, and how would you enforce it?” he says. “Are you going to get vaccine records? Then you’re holding medical information, and there could be privacy concerns.”
Hirzel raises other issues, too. “If someone got sick because you mandated a vaccine, you could have responsibility for that,” he says. “If someone has a religious or medical reason about why they don’t want to get a vaccine, they could have fair housing claims.
Read more about the pros and cons of what one of our experts called a “really sticky wicket”: