The F.D.A. approval also gives industry groups grounds to encourage vaccinations from their members — and lobby against legislation that may hinder those efforts. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced this month that it would mandate vaccines for its work force once the F.D.A. fully approved them. The Business Roundtable, an influential lobbying group, said Monday that it supported mandates.
“Many companies have made the decision to mandate vaccines for some or all of their employees, and we applaud their decision,” the group, led by the Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon, said in a statement. “We also encourage policymakers, including at the state and local levels, to support — not impede — companies’ ability to make such a decision.”
At least three states — Montana, Texas and Utah — that had banned vaccine requirements by law or executive order did so specifically because the three vaccines used in the United States were being administered under emergency-use authorizations, not full approval. Some companies, like Norwegian Cruise Line in Florida, have resisted such prohibitions, but most have largely stayed out of the fray so far.
Over the past month, there have been signs that companies are showing an increased appetite for vaccine mandates.
Understand Vaccine and Mask Mandates in the U.S.
- Vaccine rules. On Aug. 23, the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and up, paving the way for an increase in mandates in both the public and private sectors. Private companies have been increasingly mandating vaccines for employees. Such mandates are legally allowed and have been upheld in court challenges.
- Mask rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July recommended that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public places within areas experiencing outbreaks, a reversal of the guidance it offered in May. See where the C.D.C. guidance would apply, and where states have instituted their own mask policies. The battle over masks has become contentious in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.
- Schools. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine mandates for education staff. A survey released in August found that many American parents of school-age children are opposed to mandated vaccines for students, but were more supportive of mask mandates for students, teachers and staff members who do not have their shots.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get a Covid-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their work force.
- New York City. Proof of vaccination is required of workers and customers for indoor dining, gyms, performances and other indoor situations, although enforcement does not begin until Sept. 13. Teachers and other education workers in the city’s vast school system will need to have at least one vaccine dose by Sept. 27, without the option of weekly testing. City hospital workers must also get a vaccine or be subjected to weekly testing. Similar rules are in place for New York State employees.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon announced that it would seek to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops “no later” than the middle of September. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees would have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
As of Aug. 7, the share of job postings requiring vaccinations was up 90 percent from a month earlier, according to the job search company Indeed. Those that require vaccinations, though, are still a small fraction of the overall listings.
F.D.A. authorization could also simplify negotiations with unions, whose mixed stance toward mandates has contributed to a class divide among workers. On Monday, Disney World said unions representing more than 30,000 employees had agreed to a mandate, citing the F.D.A.’s full approval, that would require workers to be vaccinated by Oct. 22.
But the United Food and Commercial Workers International, a union that represents around 1.3 million workers in grocery stores, pharmacies and meatpacking plants, warned on Monday against mandates that did not take employees’ concerns into consideration.