The Department of Justice has determined federal law doesn't prohibit public agencies and private businesses from requiring COVID-19 vaccines — even if the vaccines have only emergency use authorization.
In an opinion Monday posted by CNN, the department’s office of legal counsel determined there’s no prohibition on "public or private entities from imposing vaccination requirements, even when the only vaccines available are those with [Emergency Use Authorization]."
The vaccines are still awaiting full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
The opinion paves the way for more federal agencies and businesses to require vaccinations.
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first agency in the federal government to announce it will require patient-facing employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
California and New York City also on Monday said they'd require some or all of their government employees to get vaccinated or be tested weekly.
Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor who specializes in administrative and health care law, told CNN the DOJ had offered a "good legal analysis."
But he was skeptical of the impact the opinion would have.
The weaknesses in the legal arguments against vaccine mandates have "been apparent for a long time now," Bagley told the news outlet.
"If we see institutions change their minds about vaccine mandates, I suspect it'll have more to do with the way that risks associated with [the delta variant] have changed the assessment of the value of those mandates.”
The COVID-19 variant is currently behind a a surge in cases among unvaccinated individuals.
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