What about Mandatory Vaccination?

The idea of mandatory vaccination is a “hot topic of discussion” in many corners of our society, including condominium communities.   Many of our clients have asked:  “Can we make vaccination mandatory for condominium staff or contractors (particularly if they ever need to enter the units)?”  “Can we make vaccination mandatory for condominium residents?”  “Can we make vaccination mandatory for use of particular amenities?”  These are understandable questions, given the scientific evidence about the ability of the vaccines to control the spread (and impact) of Covid-19.

The fact of the matter is that we don’t yet have clear answers to the above questions.  We don’t yet have Court decisions on point (in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic).  There are a few Court decisions respecting mandatory vaccination policies in relation to previous pandemics….but those previous Court cases are of limited assistance (because every situation and every virus is unique). 

For now, the most we can say is as follows:

1. Mandatory vaccination policies MIGHT make sense in certain “very high risk” situations….where one can’t trust other measures to provide a reasonable level of safety.

2. HOWEVER:  Mandatory vaccination policies are also risky.  In particular,

  • There is the risk of a claim for breach of privacy, because the policy may force disclosure of whether or not someone is vaccinated.
  • There is a risk of a claim for breach of Human Rights, because the policy can, in some cases, force someone to risk serious side effects. 
  • There is a further risk of a claim for breach of Human Rights if employment or occupancy rights are denied or reduced because of a bodily condition (namely not having been vaccinated).
  • There is a risk of a claim for battery, because the policy can, in some cases, force unwanted bodily “harm” (in order to keep a job or to exercise occupancy “rights”).

3. These are complex issues, without simple solutions.   Therefore:   Many condominium corporations may prefer, for now, to consider a policy that encourages vaccination of the condominium’s workers (by including concrete supportive measures for employees to be vaccinated)….but which permits workers to avoid vaccination (by including suitable alternative safety measures).   We have a template policy of this sort. 

4. In terms of residents:  Most condominium corporations are, similarly, not yet adopting mandatory vaccination policies (including policies that require vaccination for use of amenities)…..and are instead carefully following all guidance measures from relevant health authorities.   For the time being, we agree that this is a sensible, cautious approach.

That said:   The one thing that seems to be certain about this pandemic is that the situation is bound to change.  So, we might be seeing some “mandatory vaccination” policies some time soon.   Stand by.

Stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the latest developments on the interaction between COVID-19 and condominiums!