By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – Pfizer is the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive full FDA approval. It is a move that for some organizations is a green light to begin issuing mandates.

The Pentagon being one of those that announced they will move to require vaccination for all military members.

While the City of Denver has already issued a vaccine mandate for city workers and those in high risk environments, legal experts believe the approval may be the push local business owners were waiting for.

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“I think we are going to see a lot more employers mandate vaccines at this point,” Christine Samsel said.

Samsel is a shareholder at Brownstein Hyatt Farber and Schreck and an employment lawyer who has been focusing on COVID for months.

She says having the approval removes several legal hurdles and can be required like other vaccination requirements.

“Schools often mandate vaccinations with exemptions, health care providers often mandate those. The only difference is that those vaccines had full FDA approval,” she said.

Like those requirements anyone putting vaccine policies in place will have to include exemptions, for those with medical conditions, disabilities or religious believes.

While many have questioned the legality of sharing medical information, Samsel says it can be done.

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“The federal EEOC and various state agencies have said just asking about vaccination status is not a prohibited question. Once you get that information you must treat that in a confidential manner,” Samsel said.

When it comes to patrons, similar rules apply.

Greg Clifton is a professor at Metro State University of Denver and a practicing attorney who says while it may be legal, those decisions are more political than medical right now.

“From a business owner perspective, you certainly don’t want to go back to a shutdown and if this is what avoiding a shutdown looks like I think business owners are going to get behind it,” he said.

That said businesses asking for proof of vaccination from customers will have to weigh other issues including concerns about privacy, maintaining records and keeping them confidential as well as obtaining information on minors.

Karen Morfitt