Many citizens in the United States are facing the possibility of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, implemented by employers, cities, states, or even through federally-related regulations.
(Article by Lizzy Murica republished from LawEnforcementToday.com)
Across this country, millions of people have received one or both doses of the COVID vaccine.
To date, according to data presented at USAfacts.org, over 46 million people have received at least one dose, and over 21 million have received both doses of the vaccine.
Daily, many happily line up at vaccine clinics for their injections, and they proudly post their vaccination on social media, to congratulatory virtual fist-bumps.
There are many others, however, who are not so enthusiastic about receiving the vaccine.
A Gallup survey conducted in October of 2020 revealed that 42% of U.S. adults said they would not get the vaccine.
More recent research by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor showed that as of December 2020, 71% of respondents agreed to receiving the vaccine, with 27% remaining "vaccine hesitant," refusing to receive a vaccine even if it was offered for free and "deemed safe by scientists."
Among health care workers, the KFF also reported that 29% were "vaccine hesitant."
The reasons for refusal are multiple, and quite worthy of consideration.
Some are concerned about the speed with which the various available vaccines were developed, and the obvious resulting lack of long-term data on efficacy and potentially harmful side effects.
Indeed, former CDC acting director Dr. Richard Besser, who espoused his support for the vaccination, confirmed to Today that:
"We’ve never had a vaccine approved this quickly, and that will raise a lot of concerns for many people….
"This [the vaccine] is being approved based on two months of safety data, which isn't a lot."
Apropos of the lack of safety data, some are understandably concerned about the new use of mRNA technology.
Also, according to KFF, 51% of the "vaccine hesitant" have "concerns over the role of politics in the development process." Given the fact that the viral outbreak itself was drenched in politics, from excuses for Trump-bashing to the excuses for many intrusive edicts and regulations, this is completely understandable.
Many would simply prefer to have the option to take their chances with an illness with high survival rate versus a brand new vaccine with no long term studies.
Other concerns lie with specifics. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, there has been no testing regarding the question of whether the recipient of a vaccine has a reduced risk of transmitting the virus to others. This fact leads many to question the point of receiving the vaccine at all, especially since it is presented as a way to protect others.
As one would expect, other legitimate objections come from review of reported adverse events related to the vaccine, as documented by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS.
According to a search of the VAERS database, as of February 18, 2021, out of 19,907 cases of reported adverse events related to the COVID-19 vaccine, there were 1095 deaths.
In addition, 403 reports indicated permanent disability. Also reported were 4,129 emergency room visits and 2,297 hospitalizations, and there were 33 reported birth defects.
Anecdotal reports in mainstream and social media of tragic deaths after receiving the vaccine, in combination with VAERS reporting, have not exactly increased confidence in the safety of the vaccine, either.
So a concerned citizen questioning the safety or efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine can simply refuse to have it administered, right?
Not so fast.
As it turns out, there are four notable -and legal- paths to requiring persons to receive the vaccine, with possible significant consequences for refusal.
First, the vaccine may be required as a condition of employment.
According to attorney Jon Zimring of Greenberg Traurig in Chicago, the most likely industries that would be pro-vaccine include health care, travel, and retail, "or other businesses whose employees are at risk or who present a risk to others."
Robin Samuel, an attorney with Baker McKenzie in Los Angeles, told the Society for Human Resource Management:
"Employers may require vaccines before employees return to the worksite if the failure to be vaccinated constitutes a direct threat to other employees in the workplace because the virus is rampant and easily transmitted in the workplace."
Legal expert and senior lecturer Joanne Rosen notes that employers have already made vaccines mandatory for certain workplaces. For instance, many health care workers are required to be vaccinated against the flu every year.
There are two primary exceptions to mandated vaccines at work, according to Michelle Strowhiro, employment law partner at McDermott Will & Emery. Strowhiro states that an employee can object if they have a disability or medical condition that would be exacerbated by the vaccine, or a sincerely held religious belief that does not permit administration of the vaccine.
However, an employer does not have to accommodate an employee's "secular or medical beliefs about vaccines."
As such, more letters like the one provided to us below are likely to go out to employees who have been hesitant to receive the vaccine.
This letter is from Andrew H. Banoff, President and CEO of Jewish Senior Services, a senior care organization, to an employee.
Implying that the recipient has been hesitant to receive the vaccine, Banoff asserts:
"We have been patient with those who had concerns about getting the vaccine, but it is now time to make it a Condition of Employment."
This is our future. Despite the obvious lack of long-term studies on the safety and efficacy of the COVID vaccine, employees all across the country are facing the prospect of losing their jobs if they are hesitant to receive the vaccine.
But it doesn't stop there.
A second way mandatory vaccines can be legally implemented is at the city level.
This happened in 2019 in New York City, when, in response to a measles outbreak, the measles vaccine was made mandatory for those who lived in four particular zip codes. Residents who did not accept the MMR vaccine or could not prove immunity to measles faced a costly $1000 fine.
It is quite conceivable that cities with outbreaks could easily resurrect such a requirement with the COVID vaccine.
Third, mandatory vaccinations could be implemented at state level.
The precedent has been set with the 1905 Supreme Court case Jacobson v. Massachusetts.
In 1902, there was an outbreak of smallpox in Cambridge, MA. An ordinance was enacted that required all residents to be vaccinated against smallpox, or face a fine of $5.
Jacobson objected to the mandate, and argued, among other things, that "his constitutionally protected liberty interests were being infringed by this mandate."
The Court decided that "individual rights are not absolute, and states can interfere with rights to protect the public health, as long as it's reasonable."
Regarding the case, legal expert Joanne Rosen wrote that the Supreme Court:
"said that states have under their police powers, which is under the Constitution, the authority to enact reasonable regulations as necessary to protect public health, public safety, and the common good."
"Vaccination mandates constitute exactly that kind of permissible state action to protect the public's health.
"Even though it's 115 years old, this continues to be the benchmark case on the state's power to mandate vaccination."
So, as multiple states issue edicts regarding masking and social distancing, with their concomitant limits on numbers of gatherers and the type of gatherings people are allowed to have, it is rather chilling to realize that we could be mere steps away from state-mandated, and Supreme-Court backed, vaccinations.
In fact, in New York, Assembly Bill A11179, which is presently listed as "In Committee," proposes mandated administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The bill states:
"If public health officials determine that residents of the state are not developing sufficient immunity from COVID-19, the department shall mandate vaccination for all individuals or groups of individuals who, as shown by clinical data, are proven to be safe to receive such vaccine.
Fourth, there exists the possibility of mandating at the federal level.
Fortunately, according to Dorit Reiss, a law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, a federal mandate would "[a]lmost certainly not" happen, due the federal government's "limited powers expressly spelled out in the Constitution."
However, Reiss told Today, there are workarounds.
For example, it "would be within the federal government's powers" to require vaccination in order to obtain a passport, which would clearly affect large numbers of people who travel internationally for work or pleasure.
This is where we are.
This is a time when choices are limited across the country as to whether we can see each other's faces, come together to worship, meet for a simple coffee or meal, or even gather for a holiday celebration with our families.
As it turns out, we are also facing the possibility that we can be legally forced to receive a vaccination that between 27 and 42 percent of us are hesitant to receive – or face punishments such as a stiff fine or loss of a job.