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VERIFY: No, your employer is not required to pay your medical bills if you have an adverse reaction to an employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccine

There are ways for people to file claims and get money for medical bills, but an employer is not outright required to pay for any treatment a person receives.

PORTLAND, Maine — With Maine now requiring all health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccines by October 1, and more private companies requiring the shot, people are voicing their apprehensions about getting the vaccine.

One main concern is about adverse reactions to the vaccine.

THE QUESTION:

Bruce e-mailed NEWS CENTER Maine to ask: "if you're required to vaccination against COVID-19 by your employer are they responsible for medical treatment should you have an adverse reaction?"

THE SOURCES:

THE ANSWER:

No, your employer is not required to pay your medical bills if you have an adverse reaction to an employer-mandated COVID-19 vaccine.

Your employer must pay you for the time to get the vaccine and any sick time you take off due to side effects, but the employer is not responsible for medical bills.

WHAT WE FOUND:

A DOL spokesperson wrote in an e-mail:

"For workers covered by the ETS [Emergency Temporary Standard], the OSHA COVID-19 Healthcare ETS requires employers to support COVID-19 vaccination for each employee by providing reasonable time and paid leave (e.g., paid sick leave, administrative leave) to each employee for vaccination and any side effects experienced following vaccination. The ETS does not require employers to pay for medical treatment for any vaccination side effects.

For workers not covered by the ETS, this issue may be covered by other Federal, State, and local laws, including workers compensation laws. At this juncture, OSHA encourages employers in all workplaces to provide paid leave to each employee for vaccination and any side effects experienced following vaccination."

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration's Countermeasure Injury Compensation Program was created so that in the unlikely event you experience a serious injury from a covered countermeasure, you may be considered for benefits

In the FAQ, a question asks: Will the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program provide compensation to individuals injured by COVID-19 vaccines? 

COVID-19 vaccines are covered countermeasures under the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP). 

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) authorizes the CICP to provide benefits to certain individuals or estates of individuals who sustain a covered serious physical injury as the direct result of the administration or use of covered countermeasures identified in and administered or used under a PREP Act declaration.  

The PREP Act declaration for medical countermeasures against COVID-19 states that the covered countermeasures are:

  1. any antiviral, any drug, any biologic, any diagnostic, any other device, any respiratory protective device, or any vaccine manufactured, used, designed, developed, modified, licensed, or procured:
    1. to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat, or cure COVID–19, or the transmission of SARS–CoV–2 or a virus mutating therefrom; or
    2. to limit the harm that COVID–19, or the transmission of SARS–CoV–2 or a virus mutating therefrom, might otherwise cause;
  2. a product manufactured, used, designed, developed, modified, licensed, or procured to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat, or cure a serious or life-threatening disease or condition caused by a product described in paragraph (a) above;
  3. a product or technology intended to enhance the use or effect of a product described in paragraph (a) or (b) above; or
  4. any device used in the administration of any such product, and all components and constituent materials of any such product.

But these answers do not say an employer is required to pay for a person's medical bills related to an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine.

John Rohde, executive director of Maine's Worker's Compensation Board, said you have several options:

  • Ask your employer to pay for your medical bills
  • Ask your health insurance to pay for your medical bills
  • File a worker's compensation claim for any bills your employer or health insurance will not cover.