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Q116 - COVID-19 Vaccine Injury

Updated: Apr 25, 2021


An employee receives the COVID-19 vaccine as required by their employer. Due to a negative reaction to the vaccine, they become partially paralyzed and can no longer work. Is it recordable?


YES. The vaccine was mandated by the employer and therefore any injuries that result as part of that activity is considered work-related and recordable if it results in medical treatment beyond first aid, restricted duty, lost time, loss of consciousness or death. This case should be recorded as a lost time incident and logged for the maximum 180 days on the OSHA log if the employee cannot return to work.

1904.7(b)(3)(viii): May I stop counting days if an employee who is away from work because of an injury or illness retires or leaves my company? Yes, if the employee leaves your company for some reason unrelated to the injury or illness, such as retirement, a plant closing, or to take another job, you may stop counting days away from work or days of restriction/job transfer. If the employee leaves your company because of the injury or illness, you must estimate the total number of days away or days of restriction/job transfer and enter the day count on the 300 Log.

1904.5(b)(iii) states that illnesses/injuries are not work related if "The injury or illness results solely from voluntary participation in a wellness program or in a medical, fitness, or recreational activity such as blood donation, physical examination, flu shot, exercise class, racquetball, or baseball."

From the preamble to 1904.5: "Similarly, if an employee suffered a severe reaction to a flu shot that was administered as part of a voluntary inoculation program, the case would not be considered work-related; however, if an employee suffered a reaction to medications administered to enable the employee to travel overseas on business, or the employee had an illness reaction to a medication administered to treat a work-related injury, the case would be considered work-related..."

OSHA Field Manual: "Question 7-22 If an employee has an adverse reaction to a smallpox vaccination; is it recordable under OSHA's recordkeeping rule? If an employee has an adverse reaction to a smallpox vaccination, the reaction is recordable if it is work related (see 29 CFR 1904.5) and meets the general recording criteria contained in 29 CFR 1904.7. A reaction caused by a smallpox vaccination is work related if the vaccination was necessary to enable the employee to perform his or her work duties. Such a reaction is work-related even though the employee was not required to receive it, if the vaccine was provided by the employer to protect the employee against exposure to smallpox in the work environment. For example, if a health care employer establishes a program to vaccinate employees who may be involved in treating people suffering from the effects of a smallpox outbreak, reactions to the vaccine would be work related. The same principle applies to adverse reactions among emergency response workers whose duties may cause them to be exposed to smallpox. The vaccinations in this circumstance are analogous to inoculations given to employees to immunize them from diseases to which they may be exposed to in the course of work-related overseas travel."

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