When we look back on 2020, the year will be one that many will want to forget. We’ve had murder hornets, zombie hurricanes, asteroid threats, and COVID-19 to manage.
Although scientists are working furiously to produce a COVID-19 vaccine to help life achieve some normalcy, many people have concerns about getting this shot.
State Governments Can Mandate Vaccine Use
Although the United States is the “home of the free,” the government has some remarkable power to compel a choice.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1905 that Massachusetts could fine people who refused to get a smallpox vaccine. That ruling set the standard for vaccination requirements to attend public schools.
The courts have consistently found that when a medical necessity exists, the government can mandate a choice.
That doesn’t mean you’re forced to take a COVID-19 vaccine. You’d still have the right to refuse. If you decide to follow that journey, it could result in fines, jail time, and a lack of economic access.
States can limit access to services, employment, and education if people decide not to get vaccinated.
Congress Could Enact a Federal Requirement
Congress has the authority to legislate. If these elected officials decided that a vaccine mandate was necessary, it would likely be in the form of a tax penalty.
That means people might need to navigate federal and state requirements to manage their vaccination preferences.
States would still need to offer exemptions. You could expect individuals with legitimate medical risks, such as pregnancy or allergies, to avoid taking a COVID-19 vaccine. You won’t find philosophical or religious exemptions available since those aren’t part of the Free Exercise Clause in the First Amendment.
Some employers could even require vaccinations and fire employees who refuse them unless a legitimate medical concern is claimable.
We won’t get to this point until a vaccine is widely available for everyone to use. Until then, wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay safe out there.