Ask Brooke: Can Parents Require a Nanny to get Vaccinated?


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A family I've worked with for over a year now just asked if I'm ok with getting vaccinated for them and frankly...I'm not. I read a bunch of forums about it and it seems that everyone is torn on this issue! Some parents think nannies NEED to be vaccinated while others think it's an invasion of privacy to ask. What do I do?! I don't want her to think I'm rude but I don't think I should need to get them. What do you think? - Anonymous 

This is a really great question and something that many nannies deal with. While a family cannot legally require a nanny to get vaccinated, they can choose to only hire nannies who are willing to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations (usually Influenza, Tdap, and Varicella). The problem in this specific situation is that the nanny has been with the family for over a year, and it's just now being brought up. This is not something the nanny and family discussed prior to entering into an employment agreement. Vaccination expectations need to be addressed during the interview process or at the very latest, during contract negotiation. It's not fair for parents to unexpectedly spring this on a nanny. Had the nanny in this situation known vaccinations were a requirement of employment, they very well might have chosen not to take the job.

With all that said, while I feel it's unfair to not communicate this expectation prior to the start of employment, I don't think it's unfair for a family to require this of their nanny. As nannies, our top priority should be the safety and well being of the children in our care. Plain and simply, not getting vaccinated puts our nanny kids at risk. Even if we don't get sick often because we have strong immune systems, we still carry germs that can compromise an immune system that is still developing. Other professions require employees to get vaccinated, such as nurses. If nurses opt out of vaccinations, they are required to wear masks while working with patients. The same should apply to nannies.

I want to be clear that it is totally up to the nanny what they want to do with their body, however, refusing to get vaccinated has some inevitable consequences. Those consequences include: less job opportunities because many families require nannies to get vaccinated, getting let go from a job if vaccinations weren't discussed beforehand and it is a deal breaker for both the parents and the nanny, or wearing a mask to work everyday. If you are choosing to work in the childcare profession, you have selected a field where vaccination requirements are common. In fact, California is passing a new law where childcare workers will be mandated to get vaccinated. If you are a nanny who is uncomfortable with vaccinations, it's important to address it at the interview. Of course the parents should be bringing this up on their own, but in case they don't, you should take the initiative to express your stance and make sure it isn't an issue.

Finally, if a parent does require their nanny to get vaccinated, the industry standard is for the parent to cover the cost. Generally speaking, most nannies are happy to oblige if it doesn't cost them anything and if it is for the benefit and safety of the child. Parents addressing vaccinations should focus on the children when explaining why they require their nanny to get vaccinated.

Now, to the nanny who submitted this question, you have a couple options. If getting vaccinated is a deal breaker for you, I would sit them down and tell them that. Explain that they did not mention this prior to you accepting the job and it's unfair for them to suddenly bring it up over a year later. See what they say after they realize that the responsibility falls on them for not clearly communicating it earlier. If they are firm that it is a deal breaker, offer a compromise and see how they feel about you wearing a mask at work in lieu of getting vaccinated. However, you also have to ask yourself how YOU feel about doing that. Wearing a mask to work everyday is a big commitment and I imagine most nannies would not be comfortable with this. Finally, remember that the reason the parents are asking you to get vaccinated is for the safety of their children. If it is a deal breaker for both of you and wearing a mask is not an option, it might be time to part ways and look for a new position where vaccinations are not a requirement for employment.