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Carmel Shachar

  • Boston’s City Worker Vaccine Mandate Tests Power of Unions

    January 6, 2023

    The power of unions to bargain over workplace health measures is at stake as the Massachusetts high court decides whether to allow a Covid-19 vaccine…

  • Abortion, Preventive Care Are Among Top 2023 Health Law Issues

    January 3, 2023

    Health-care lawyers will be busy helping clients comply with or fight changing precedents on issues from abortion to drug pricing and the False Claims Act…

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    ‘He showed me what it meant to lead with love’

    December 14, 2022

    Harvard Law Clinical Professor Robert Greenwald retires after a long career securing health care access for vulnerable populations.

  • How the Dobbs abortion ruling reshaped America’s privacy debate, from health to politics and law

    October 14, 2022

    Dobbs’ biggest impact in a legal sense is around the right to privacy, which is not codified in the Constitution but has been established by…

  • U.S. Supreme Court building

    Harvard Law School professors call potential abortion rights rollback ‘unprecedented’

    May 16, 2022

    The Petrie-Flom Center hosted ‘Roe in limbo: A town hall on the leaked Dobbs opinion.’

  • When it comes to removing mask mandates, who should decide — the law, or public health?

    April 25, 2022

    This week, a federal judge struck down the CDC’s authority to mandate masks on public transportation, a move that many health officials oppose. Experts on Greater Boston told Jim Braude that decisions like those shouldn’t be left up to the legal system. "I think it's disappointing that a judge was actually the decision maker. I think even if the mandate is coming to an end, it seems like a sorry end to kind of the authority of the CDC in our public health arena,” said Dr. Louise Ivers, executive director of MGH Center for Global Health. Although some people celebrated the end of masking on planes and public transportation, others worry about the spread of coronavirus, especially to the elderly and young children. "I think from a social point of view, it's a really unsatisfying answer to say 'okay, well, people should just decide," said Carmel Shachar, executive director of Harvard Petrie-Flom Center.

  • Health Worker Vaccine Mandate Stays Intact as Pandemic Recedes

    March 21, 2022

    The vaccine mandate for health-care workers will likely remain firm even as other cornerstones of President Joe Biden’s pandemic response dissolve with the administration’s messaging that the U.S. is in a new phase of the pandemic. The mandate requires health-care workers at facilities paid by Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated or they risk loss of funding. It was written at the peak of the delta variant surge. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Medicare agency’s mandate as the omicron variant ripped through the U.S. health-care system. ... But “the federal government is not a particularly nimble entity. It’s not designed to turn on a dime,” said Carmel Shachar, executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.

  • An illustration of a large transparent globe with DNA strands floating inside as two scientist and two others observe.

    Faculty Books in Brief: Winter 2022

    January 31, 2022

    A wide range of books by faculty, from a collection of essays on the ethics of consumer genetic testing to a look at the fate of constitutional institutions in populist regimes to a delightful children's book by a legal philosopher

  • Two people walking in a hallway with other people walking along behind and next to them.

    Weighing President Biden’s first year

    January 18, 2022

    In this series, Harvard Law experts turn a critical eye to the Biden administration’s efforts on health care, the economy, criminal justice reform, and other areas important to Americans — and share their thoughts on its agenda for the future.

  • Grocery store employee Leilani Jordan died of covid-19 at the start of the pandemic. Her mom wants justice.

    January 11, 2022

    Zenobia Shepherd can’t wrap her mind around her daughter’s death. Her heart won’t let her. Leilani Jordan, who had developmental challenges and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, died in April 2020 of complications from covid-19. She was 27 and working in a Maryland grocery store when she fell ill and days later became one of the first faces of the pandemic’s devastating death toll. ... Carmel Shachar, the executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, said the question of whether an employer is liable if a worker is exposed to the coronavirus in the workplace is “is still fairly novel because the pandemic is still a fairly new phenomenon.” “Litigation around covid-19 workplace exposure has been increasing over the last year, and will likely continue to increase with the omicron explosion of cases,” Shachar said in an email.

  • The Danger of the Supreme Court Undercutting Biden’s Vaccination Rules

    January 11, 2022

    An op-ed by Carmel Shachar and I. Glenn Cohen: “There are three quarters of a million new [COVID] cases yesterday. . . [t]hat is 10 times as many as when OSHA put in this ruling. The hospitals are today, yesterday, full. . . . Can you ask us—is that what you are doing now—to stop this vaccination rule with nearly one million people, nearly three quarters of a million people, new cases every day?” This was the dramatic question asked on Friday by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer of Scott Keller, one of the attorneys seeking a stay of an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) promulgated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) in the case of National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor. This so called “Test-or-Vaccinate” mandate requires employers across the country with more than 100 employees to implement either vaccination or testing and masking policies for their employees. A majority of the Justices seem poised to endorse not only a temporary stay of the standard, but a permanent injunction against OSHA’s power to act, and the country will be worse for it.

  • Line of people outside wearing face masks and winter coats. Sign with arrow reads: COVID TESTING.

    Weighing President Biden’s first year: Health care and the pandemic

    January 7, 2022

    Glenn Cohen and Carmel Shachar reflect on the administration’s successes, failures, and agenda for the future.

  • Census: COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates for Small Business Employees Vary by State

    December 17, 2021

    Chris Lambert, a small business owner in Indiana, says he has encouraged his eight employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. But for a variety of reasons – including the fact that 90% of them are already inoculated – he has not taken the step that so many in his position are grappling with across the country. ... Only 3.3% of small businesses in Indiana required employees to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination before physically coming to work over a recent weeklong stretch – the smallest percentage among the more than 30 states that reported data, according to a report released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse Survey. Nationwide, only about 13% of such businesses require workers to show proof of inoculation, according to the census statistics, which were collected between Dec. 6 to 12. ... States in the Northeast and on the West Coast are more likely to see small businesses mandate employee vaccination, while Southern and Midwestern states are less likely, according to the bureau. ... The regional trend doesn’t surprise Carmel Shachar, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics. The differences follow the same pattern seen with other pandemic public health measures, she says, in which states where there are fewer mask requirements or lower vaccination rates are also the ones “that are being really supportive of employee pushback against vaccine mandates.” She adds: “I think the politicization of public health has a lot to do with it. But then I think some of it also goes to different areas of our country have different traditions and different cultural assumptions when it comes to balancing public health, individual liberties, respect for scientific expertise.”

  • 12 Questions About COVID Vaccine Mandates at Work—Answered

    October 12, 2021

    The science is clear: COVID-19 vaccines drastically reduce the chance of hospitalization or death from the disease and will help us get out of the pandemic that’s claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S. But even so, months after the shots became available for all adults in the country, tens of millions remained unvaccinated. ... Though school and healthcare workers have long been required to get vaccinated for a number of diseases—like measles, mumps, and rubella (the MMR vaccination) or even the flu—the upcoming COVID requirements are much more extensive in nature. “We’ve had vaccine mandates before, but they haven’t been quite as broadly applied,” says Carmel Shachar, the executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. Because of this, it’s not immediately clear how they’ll work.

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    Petrie-Flom Center announces new research initiative on psychedelics law and regulation

    July 7, 2021

    The Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School has announced a new research initiative, the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation, to promote safety, innovation, and equity in psychedelics research, commerce, and therapeutics.

  • Are COVID-19 vaccine mandates for college students legal?

    May 17, 2021

    Dozens of colleges and universities across the country have announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates for returning students...The question: Can colleges and universities legally require students to get vaccinated for COVID-19? The answer: In general yes, with a few exceptions for medical and religious exemptions...Our experts say that federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require that schools make reasonable accommodations for those with medical conditions. There are also some arguments for religious exemptions, but that’s going to depend on the state and how courts apply existing statutes. "Some colleges and universities may say, all right, if you don't want the vaccine, we have a reasonable accommodation, which is you will continue to be on Zoom every day," Carmel Shachar said. Shachar and David Bloomfield said that even though the vaccines are only authorized under emergency use, rather than full FDA approval, it shouldn't change much legally.

  • Full FDA Approval Of Pfizer’s Covid Shot Could Make Vaccine Mandates More Likely

    May 10, 2021

    Pfizer and BioNTech began the process of applying for full FDA approval of their Covid-19 vaccine Friday, an expected move that could force the issue of whether vaccine mandates—proposed for schools, colleges and even some workplaces—will be a legal way to combat the virus...A full license adds a new dimension to the debate over whether organizations, schools and universities are allowed to require vaccination, with many opponents arguing that people cannot be required to get a vaccine licensed under an emergency use authorization. Legally speaking, there hasn’t really been a test as to whether a temporarily authorized vaccine can be mandated, Carmel Shachar, executive director of Harvard’s Petrie-Flom Center, told Forbes, though a fully licensed vaccine would certainly “be less controversial to mandate.” While any mandate would have to take account of legally protected medical and religious exemptions, Shachar said any further accommodations—such as an opposition to vaccination—would be decided by the organization implementing it and relevant local laws. Shachar added that it “would not be that much of a stretch” to add a Covid-19 vaccine to the “long list” of vaccines children need to get in order to attend school or daycare.

  • Bay Area employers more likely to ask workers to get COVID-19 vaccine than other U.S. employers

    May 10, 2021

    Bay Area employers are more likely to ask workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 than employers in other parts of the U.S., according to a new survey. Despite privacy concerns, the law could side with employers. Looking at a U.S. Census small business survey done in mid-April, only 3% of businesses nationwide were requiring workers to show proof of vaccination, but in the Bay Area that more than doubled to 7.5%...Carmel Shachar is the executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. “The way that we structure the employee/employer relationship in this country, employers have a lot of leeway to ask their employees to get vaccinated,” she told KCBS Radio. “They usually don’t because it’s not worth their while. Most employers who are employing their employees at-will would be able to say ‘I want you to get this vaccine,’ even if it’s under emergency use authorization, with the exception of if somebody needed a medical accommodation or needed a religious belief accommodation.”

  • American flag on the wall in the background; President Joe Biden at a podium with Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sitting behind him.

    Evaluating President Biden’s first 100 days

    April 28, 2021

    As President Joe Biden approached his 100th day in office, Harvard Law Today asked faculty members and researchers from across Harvard Law School to weigh in on the new administration’s agenda, actions, accomplishments, and failures to date.

  • Male patient getting an injection in the upper arm from a doctor wearing blue gloves.

    Evaluating President Biden’s first 100 days: Health care and the pandemic

    April 28, 2021

    I. Glenn Cohen ’03 and Carmel Shachar J.D./M.P.H. ’10 of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics discuss the Biden administration's healthcare agenda.

  • A Look at Covid-19 Vaccine ‘Passports,’ Passes and Apps Around the Globe

    April 27, 2021

    It is the latest status symbol. Flash it at the people, and you can get access to concerts, sports arenas or long-forbidden restaurant tables. Some day, it may even help you cross a border without having to quarantine. The new platinum card of the Covid age is the vaccine certificate. It is a document that has existed for more than two centuries, but it has rarely promised to hold so much power over culture and commerce. Many versions of these certificates now come with a digital twist. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a pandemic that has impacted every facet of society so thoroughly, and then a vaccine,” said Carmel Shachar, the executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. “There is no precedent since 1918, and we definitely didn’t have smartphones in 1918.” Ramesh Raskar, a professor at M.I.T. Media Lab, has been leading an effort to develop a solution that includes both a paper certificate that anyone can easily carry as well as a free digital pass that works even without cell service.