Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized a fourth coronavirus vaccination, approving a new shot developed by Novavax. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna products, this vaccine does not use messenger RNA technology. Unlike any of the other approved vaccinations, the Novavax shot was not developed through the use of fetal stem-cell lines.
This approval raises interesting questions and options for employers and employees. Many employers that mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for employees received requests for religious exemptions based on the fact that stem-cell lines used to develop the vaccines may have been originally obtained from aborted fetuses. Presumably, employees who were granted exemptions based on this reasoning would not have religious objections to obtaining the Novavax vaccine.
Of course, many workers requested religious exemptions based on their objection to the use of any vaccinations. Outside of the healthcare industry, many employers have dropped COVID-19 vaccination mandates. However, with expected future surges in infections due to new variants, employers now have an option for responding to some employees’ religious objections to their vaccination mandates.