Several local companies said Monday that they’re still mulling over any mandates.By Chris Hoffman

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The FDA has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

This makes it the first vaccine to get such status. According to epidemiologist and Duquesne University Provost Dr. David Dausey, this could open the door to more companies requiring the vaccine.

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Pitt law professor Jerry Dickinson said local, state, and private companies can tell employees to get the shot or show them the door. He said mandating vaccines is not new. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled similar measures in the past and many of us have already have mandated vaccines.

“We’ve been doing this for quite some time. The state currently requires residents to get a wide range of vaccines by mandating children, for example, to get vaccinated before they enter school,” Dickinson said.

Dr. Dausey expects more companies will start requiring vaccines.

“And you might also see changes in terms of the attitudes of employees related to the vaccine because of it,” he said over Zoom on Monday.

Dr. Dausey said many people who were hesitant when the vaccine was authorized for emergency use might now change their minds.

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“You’ve already seen some federal government agencies have started to come out and say they are going to mandate the vaccine now that it is fully approved, and I think you’ll see more follow suit,” Dr. Dausey said.

According to Dickinson, exceptions include religious views and if medical conditions prevent someone from getting the vaccine.

It gets unclear with any federal mandates. Dickinson said the federal law leaves some gray areas.

“It’s unclear right now under the law whether Congress or whether the Biden administration or whether the White House could impose a nationwide vaccine mandate. The law is very unclear about that. We’ve heard a lot of people talk about whether or not Congress should act or whether the Biden administration should act. I have to say this as a constitutional law professor: it’s pretty unclear whether or not the federal government can force the vaccine mandate on persons. That really is left up to the states and local governments,” Dickinson said over Zoom.

In Allegheny County, new employees are required to get vaccinated. Right now, it’s too early to know if the county will require current employees to get vaccinated. As for the city of Pittsburgh, Mayor Bill Peduto said the law department will have to look over any mandate.

“There seems to be almost universal support within the unions themselves if we did move in that direction. But as of today, we don’t have a legal opinion to see if it’s something we can pursue,” Mayor Peduto said.

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Several local companies said Monday that they’re still mulling over any mandates. For some, it’s still optional or strongly considered.