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Regional Interests

How do religious exemptions to vaccine mandates actually work?

OHSU pharmacist Emily Chheng draws a COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination clinic at Portland International Airport, April 9, 2021.
OHSU pharmacist Emily Chheng draws a COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination clinic at Portland International Airport, April 9, 2021.

The State of Oregon and many private employers are requiring workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But there are exceptions. According to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, “employers with mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies will need to consider requests for exceptions for individuals with either (1) sincerely held religious convictions, or (2) a disability that prevents them from receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.” But how do those religious exemptions work exactly? And how can an employer determine if someone’s convictions are “sincerely held”? We dig into the details with Lewis and Clark Law professor Jim Oleske.

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