Employer COVID Vaccine Mandate Laws By State

A blue latex glove holds a small wooden sign that reads "vaccine mandate" next to 2 vaccine vials and a syringe with someone in blue scrubs out of focus in the background

In the fall of 2021, it seemed like states were coming out with new rules around vaccine mandates practically every other day. That trend has definitely slowed down, but it hasn’t stopped completely. 

New rules around vaccine mandates continue to roll out and, in some cases, vaccine mandates are being withdrawn. Below, we provide a rundown of the current status of vaccine mandates in each state. 

When reading this, please keep in mind that we are only addressing vaccine mandates that apply to private medical and dental practices. There may be additional applicable rules for other types of businesses. For example, facilities providing services in a congregate workplace like a nursing facility often have stricter rules. 
 

STATES WITHOUT MANDATES:

States that, to our knowledge, don’t have any sort of state-specific vaccine mandates as of the date of this publication are as follows:

Alaska
Arizona
Connecticut
Delaware
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Missouri
North Carolina
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Dakota
Vermont
Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Below is a short summary of vaccine laws that are currently in place:
 

ALABAMA

Alabama law does not require or prohibit mandating the COVID vaccine. However, any employer who requires the vaccine must inform their employees that they can request a medical or religious exemption to that requirement. The employer also has to make an exemption request form available to employees. The state also created a website that allows employees to easily report employers who deny exemption requests. 
 

ARKANSAS

If an employer mandates the COVID vaccine, the employer must give employees two options for an exemption from the mandate: (1) weekly testing, or (2) proof of antibodies. Note that existing state discrimination laws apply when an employer has nine or more employees, so those employers would also need to consider medical and religious exemption requests. 
 

CALIFORNIA

Statewide rule for dental offices: Any dental employee who is not vaccinated is required to get a COVID-19 test once per week and wear a FDA-cleared surgical mask. There are no exceptions to this requirement. 

Statewide rule for medical offices: All medical office employees are required to be fully vaccinated, which includes getting a booster shot. If an employee is unable to be vaccinated due to religious or medical reasons, they are required to get a COVID-19 test twice per week and wear a mask. If an employee is eligible for their booster shot but has not received it, they also need to mask and test twice per week. 

Berkeley: All dental office employees are required to be fully vaccinated, which includes getting a booster shot. If an employee is unable to be vaccinated due to religious or medical reasons, they are required to get a COVID-19 test once per week. If an employee is eligible for their booster shot but has not received it, they are required to test once per week. Medical offices in Berkeley are subject to the statewide rule for medical offices. 

Los Angeles County: All medical and dental office employees are required to be fully vaccinated. This includes getting a booster shot within 15 days of becoming eligible to receive one. If an employee is unable to be vaccinated due to religious or medical reasons, they are required to get a COVID-19 test twice per week.  

San Francisco: All healthcare workers in high-risk settings, including medical and dental offices, are required to be fully vaccinated, which includes getting a booster shot. If an employee is unable to be vaccinated due to religious or medical reasons, they are required to get a COVID-19 test once per week and wear a mask.  

Santa Clara County: All healthcare workers in higher-risk settings, including medical and dental offices, are required to be fully vaccinated, which includes getting a booster shot within 15 days of eligibility. If an employee is unable to be vaccinated due to religious or medical reasons, they are required to get a COVID-19 test twice per week and wear a mask.  
 

COLORADO

Colorado does not have a statewide vaccine mandate, however the city of Denver did have one in place for a period of time. Denver’s vaccine mandate was lifted on March 4, 2022
 

FLORIDA 

Florida law does not require or prohibit mandating the COVID vaccine. However, any employer who requires the vaccine must allow five specific exemptions. Employers are to grant exemption requests to employees who properly fill out an exemption form. Employers who fail to offer or grant an exemption request can face steep fines.
 

ILLINOIS 

All healthcare workers who are not fully vaccinated are required to be tested weekly (note that at this time booster shots are not part of the vaccination requirement). There are no exceptions to this requirement. 
 

INDIANA

If an employer is subject to a federal vaccine mandate, Indiana requires the employer to accept employee requests for medical, religious, and acquired immunity exemptions, and to allow employees to test in lieu of vaccination. Importantly, this law only applies to healthcare facilities that are subject to federal vaccine mandates. 
 

IOWA

Iowa law does not require or prohibit mandating the COVID vaccine. However, any employer who requires the vaccine must grant employees an exemption if they submit a statement that says receiving the vaccine would be injurious to their health and wellbeing or that of an individual that resides with them, or that receiving the vaccine would conflict with their religious beliefs. 
 

KANSAS

Kansas law does not require or prohibit mandating the COVID vaccine. However, any employer who requires the vaccine must grant employees an exemption if the employee submits a signed waiver stating that (1) complying with the vaccine requirement would endanger their life or health, or (2) complying with the vaccine requirement would endanger the life or health of an individual who resides with them, or (3) receiving the vaccine would violate their religious beliefs. Employers who violate this law can face steep fines. 
 

MAINE

At this time, Maine does not have a vaccine mandate that is applicable to dental or physician offices. The state does have a mandate in place for certain businesses, but over time it has amended the requirements to no longer include dental or physician offices. 
 

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi law does not require or prohibit mandating the COVID vaccine. However, any employer who requires the vaccine must grant employees an exemption if they have “a sincerely held religious objection to receiving a vaccine for COVID-19.” 
 

MONTANA 

Montana prohibits discrimination based on vaccination status, which means employers cannot consider vaccination status when making employment decisions. However, the law does permit healthcare employers to ask employees to voluntarily disclose their vaccination status “for the purpose of determining whether the health care facility should implement reasonable accommodation measures to protect the safety and health of employees, patients, visitors, and other persons from communicable diseases.”  
 

NEBRASKA 

Nebraska law does not require or prohibit mandating the COVID vaccine. However, any employer who requires the vaccine must grant employees exemptions if they are unable to be vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons. Employees requesting an exemption must also complete a vaccine exemption form. Employers may, at the employer’s own expense, require employees to be periodically tested for COVID-19. 
 

NEW YORK

Statewide: New York state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers does not apply to private medical or dental offices. This mandate only applies to facilities that are directly regulated by the New York Department of Health.

New York City: All employees who perform in-person work or interact with the public are required to be fully vaccinated (note that at this time booster shots are not part of the vaccination requirement) unless the employee is unable to be vaccinated due to religious or medical reasons. Employees with an exemption can be required to follow additional safety and health protocols (masks, physical distancing, routine testing, etc.). 
 

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota law does not require or prohibit mandating the COVID vaccine. However, any employer who requires the vaccine must grant employees exemptions if they (1) submit proof of COVID-19 antibodies, or (2) provide a certificate from a healthcare provider stating that immunization would endanger their life or health, or (3) provide a signed certificate stating their religious, philosophical, or moral beliefs are opposed to such immunization, or (4) submit to periodic COVID-19 tests.
 

OREGON 

All healthcare workers are required to be fully vaccinated (note that at this time booster shots are not part of the vaccination requirement) unless the employee submits an exemption request form based upon religious or medical reasons. Employees with an exemption can be required to follow additional safety and health protocols (masks, physical distancing, routine testing, etc.). 
 

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island law previously required healthcare workers, including those in dental offices, to be fully vaccinated. This rule was recently modified to exclude dental offices, but continues to require certain healthcare workers in medical offices to wear an N-95 mask unless they are fully vaccinated and boosted. 
 

SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina does not require or prohibit mandating the COVID vaccine. However, it recently passed a law prohibiting employers from requiring an employee to receive a COVID-19 vaccination if the employee objects for medical reasons (including the presence of antibodies, a prior positive COVID-19 test, or pregnancy) or for religious reasons. This law also prohibits employers from extending any vaccine mandate to independent contractors or third parties.   
 

TENNESSEE

Tennessee law prohibits employers from requiring an employee to provide proof of vaccination if the person objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason. This makes it nearly impossible for employers to effectively enforce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the workplace because there is no way to verify their employees’ vaccination status.
 

TEXAS

Texas law does not require or prohibit mandating the COVID vaccine. However, any employer who requires the vaccine must exempt any employee who objects to the vaccine (1) for any reason of personal conscience, or (2) based on religious belief, or (3) for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.
 

UTAH 

Utah’s restrictions against vaccine mandates originally only applied to employers with 15 or more employees. The state recently expanded those rules to apply to all employers

Employers are not permitted to mandate COVID-19 vaccination unless the employer can (1) establish a nexus between the vaccination requirement and the employee’s assigned duties, or (2) identify an external requirement for vaccination that is not imposed by the employer.

Unless either circumstance applies, employers are prohibited from maintaining employee vaccination records, and cannot require an employee to receive a COVID-19 vaccination if (1) receiving the vaccine would be injurious to their health and wellbeing; (2) receiving the vaccine would conflict with a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance; (3) receiving the vaccine would conflict with a “sincerely held personal belief”; or (4) they submit a letter from their primary care provider stating that they were previously infected by COVID-19. 

The law also requires employers to pay for any workplace COVID-19 testing requirements
 

WASHINGTON

Washington requires employees in private sector healthcare, including dental offices, to be fully vaccinated, unless they are unable to be vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons. 
 

WASHINGTON, D.C. 

The District of Columbia requires both licensed and unlicensed healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All workers, including practice owners, are required to report their vaccination status through DC Health’s online portal. Employees seeking an exemption must also use the online portal to make their request and submit documentation. 

Employers are also required to record employees’ vaccination status, and employers are not permitted to employ anyone who is not fully vaccinated or who has not been granted an exemption by DC Health.

Note that at this time booster shots are not required. The online portal website talks about emergency rulemaking being passed in February 2022 that required booster shots. That rulemaking was officially withdrawn in April in response to concerns the Department of Health was receiving that such a requirement would only exacerbate low staffing levels at many facilities.  
 

WEST VIRGINIA 

West Virginia law does not require or prohibit mandating the COVID vaccine. However, any employer who requires the vaccine must exempt any employee who presents (1) a notarized certification stating that they hold religious beliefs that prevent them from taking the COVID-19 vaccination, or (2) certification from a healthcare provider stating that a medical exemption is required due to a physical condition that contraindicates immunization, a specific medical precaution, or antibodies from previous COVID infection/exposure. 
 
At CEDR HR Solutions, we believe that “Better workplaces make better lives,” and we are committed to helping our members build stronger, better-protected businesses.

Click here to learn more about how CEDR’s HR experts can help you build a better business for you and your team.

Jun 8, 2022

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.
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