Illinois Vaccine Mandate – Is it Enforceable?

On August 26, 2021, Illinois Governor Pritzker issued an Executive Order which mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for certain professionals in healthcare and education, as well as for students and state employees, subject to certain limited exemptions which require regular COVID-19 testing. The Order became effective immediately. The Order also mandates that all individuals in Illinois who are at least two years old and who are medically able must wear face coverings indoors and in other specified settings.

The Order requires all Health Care Workers, School Personnel, Higher Education Personnel and Higher Education Students to receive at least the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine by September 5, 2021, and be fully vaccinated within 30 days following administration of their first dose in a two-dose vaccination series.

The Order does not apply to healthcare workers employed, contracted or volunteering for any state-owned or operated facility, or to students completing their coursework exclusively remotely. There are certain other limited exclusions.

Additionally, individuals are exempt from the Order’s requirement to be fully vaccinated if they demonstrate that the vaccination is medically contraindicated, including any individual who is entitled to accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. An individual is also exempt from vaccination if it violates a sincerely held religious belief.

The Order further provides that covered individuals who are not fully vaccinated must be excluded from the premises unless they comply with the testing requirements set forth in the Order.

Many in the State of Illinois have determined that the COVID vaccine is not acceptable for them. They are now facing the consequences of loss of employment or education. However, those who decline to receive the vaccine based on their conscientious objection may have relief in accordance with an Illinois law that protects them against discrimination based on health care choices.

The Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act provides that “It shall be unlawful for any person, public or private institution, or public official to discriminate against any person in any manner, including but not limited to, licensing, hiring, promotion…or any other privileges, because of such person’s conscientious refusal to receive, obtain, accept … or participate in any way in any particular form of health care services contrary to his or her conscience.”

Illinois Courts have not been asked to rule on whether this Act will protect those who decline the COVID vaccine. However, based on the clear language of the Act, individuals who refuse to receive the vaccine appear to have a good faith legal basis to do so.

If you have any questions about your legal rights concerning the vaccine, please contact the Law Office of Jeffrey Friedman, P.C., 312-357-1431 for a free consultation.

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