With hers among the state offices requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said Monday that Republican Gov. Charlie Baker was right to impose a vaccine mandate for executive branch employees and believes the step is "absolutely legal."
"For me, what is comes down to is making sure as a state we're doing everything possible to get people vaccinated to prevent future risk from the virus," Healey said during an interview on GBH radio.
The Democrat said she also agreed with Baker's decision to require masks of all students, teachers and staff in public schools to start the school year, and believes state officials should be open to designing forms of vaccination status verification that can't be easily forged, if necessary.
Healey's comments on vaccines came as the Food and Drug Administration on Monday gave full approval for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to people 16 and older. The attorney general called the FDA's decision "important" to convince some people who may have been hesitant to the receive the vaccine to seek out a shot.
Baker last week announced that he would require the 44,000 executive branch employees and contractors under his control to be vaccinated or face disciplinary action, including the potential that they could lose their jobs. Some unions have threatened to sue, suggesting employees should at least have the option to undergo regular testing as an alternative.
Healey has also mandated vaccination for employees in her office. Like Baker, she is offering regular testing as an option for those who qualify for specific religious or health exemptions.