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Can a job require workers to get vaccinated?

An expert says the state's employment-at-will rule gives the employer the power to mandate the vaccine.
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Female nurse or doctor in face mask giving flu shot to male patient during seasonal vaccination campaign at the hospital. Young man getting influenza or Covid-19 vaccine injection at the clinic office

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This week all teachers and school employees in North Carolina will become eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine and on March 10 essential frontline workers who fall under group 3 will be able to roll up their sleeves too.

That includes law enforcement officers, grocery store employees and postal workers, just to name a few.

While more people in the workplace are able to be protected from the virus, it raises the question of if an employer can require employees to get the shot.

It's our shot at a return to normalcy. Jeffrey Hirsch a University of North Carolina Law Professor helps explain.

"In most workplaces, the answer is yes," Professor Hirsch said.

He says the state's employment-at-will rule gives the employer the power to mandate the vaccine.

"Obviously there's a more highly personal nature to it because it's requiring a forced medical procedure but that frankly is one of the consequences of our at-will rule," Professor Hirsch said. 

RELATED: Would your allergy prevent you from getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

People with religious or medical accommodations could be exempt.

Otherwise, if refusing the shot prevents a worker from safely doing their job - they could legally be fired over it.

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.

Local lawyer Kristen Finlon represents some small businesses mulling over the question

"If an accommodation can reasonably be made, an employer should absolutely make every effort to make it. But if it's a situation where an employer cannot accomodate that request, termination may be the only option for them," Finlon said.

Efforts to protect the community and get back to business.

"They've just got fewer employees and so absenteeism becomes an issue if an employee has to be absent because they have covid, been exposed and need to quarantine or have someone in the household who has COVID," Finlon said.

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