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A doctor holds the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and syringe to protect against the coronavirus disease. (Photo: lakshmiprasada S/Shutterstock)

For millions of Americans, the emergency authorization of two COVID-19 vaccines by the federal government was a bright spark of hope in what has been an otherwise bleak pandemic winter. Indeed, according to preliminary modeling from Verisk’s Life Risk Navigator platform, the United States could potentially achieve the long-sought herd immunity by the fall of 2021 thanks, in part, to these very vaccines.

For businesses, particularly those engaged in so-called “essential” work or whose workers are required to be in close proximity to their colleagues or the public, the vaccines may also signal something else — the prospect of finally returning to something like normal operations. As vaccine distribution ramps up, employers may be faced with a thorny question: should they mandate inoculation as a condition of employment? If they make vaccination mandatory, they may be creating potentially costly employment practice liability exposures.

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