Fish: Attorney General Says Vaccination Side Effects Are Covered by Comp| Workers Compensation News
By Mike Fish
Friday, January 8, 2021 | 310 | 0 | min read
At least that was the opinion of the Alabama Attorney General on February 3, 2003.
A few months earlier, President Bush announced the National Smallpox Vaccination Program, a smallpox vaccination plan designed to gradually vaccinate significant numbers of Americans against a possible release (through an act of terrorism) of smallpox into the population.
Since side effects were expected to be associated with the vaccinations, the director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations (now Department of Labor) asked the AG for an opinion on whether the side effects would be covered as compensable according to the Alabama Labor Compensation Act.
In its opinion letter, the AG admitted that there were no specific cases in Alabama. The WG looked at how the courts in other states had dealt with the problem and eventually concluded that the courts in Alabama would find the side effects to be compensable.
The statement of the AG is of course not a law. It’s only an opinion, and just like lawyers, everyone has one.
How would an Alabama Circuit Court judge deal with this problem? Of course, everyone (without anti-Vaxxer) has an interest in getting vaccinated. While employers see the benefits of having an immune workforce who are less prone to illness or death, they see the same benefit in employees who are healthier from eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, or simply taking their Flintstone vitamins every morning.
Whether or not the side effects associated with the vaccine are considered compensable or not likely depends on whether an employer requires or encourages vaccination of its employees. On the other hand, employers will defend themselves against such allegations by attempting to establish that the employee took the vaccine for reasons unrelated to work.
The courts will most likely focus on the nature of the employment, when and where the vaccine was given, who paid for it, whether incentives or rewards were offered as incentives, and whether the worker would have taken the vaccine anyway.
Like the AG’s 2003 letter, this is just an opinion and you know what they are saying about it.
Mike Fish is an attorney at Fish Nelson & Holden LLC based in Birmingham, Alabama. This entry is republished with permission from the company’s Alabama Workers’ Comp Blawg.