Already, several governors have dismissed the notion of requiring coronavirus shots for their residents over fears of a legal or cultural backlash that could make it harder to reach the 70 to 85 percent vaccination rate needed to achieve herd immunity.

“The anti-vaccine movement has been going for years and years without a big audience, so the anti-mask thing, which has become very common now, suddenly gives the anti-vaccines an audience,” said Jonathan Berman, a physiologist who’s authored a book on vaccine opponents. “You see anti-maskers adopting tactics from the anti-vaccine movement, and you’ve seen anti-vaccine ideas fall into the anti-mask rhetoric.”

Lawsuits aimed at blocking employer vaccine mandates usually fail, as long as companies comply with state or federal laws that allow exemptions for objectors, usually on a religious basis. But there is no precedent for mandating a vaccine available under an emergency-use authorization — as Covid-19 vaccines will be, initially — rather than full approval from the Food and Drug Administration…

“Employers can start thinking about it, but I don’t think they’re going to implement a mandatory vaccine Jan. 1,” said Stephanie Gournis, a partner at the law firm Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath who represents employers. “If they’re willing to be on the front lines of litigation on this topic, more power to them, but the cart’s a little ahead of the horse on that issue.”