coronavirus pandemic

Can The State, Or Even Your Job Require You to Get a Vaccine?

The answer might surprise you

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It’s a question on most of our minds: Will you take a coronavirus vaccine when it’s ready?

There are factors to consider on both sides, but have you considered this: What if you are told you have to get a vaccine?

The state has extraordinary power to maintain the public health. You see it in its decisions regarding which businesses can open and which must stay closed.

A University of San Diego law professor said the state can also mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, with few exemptions. A vaccination mandate may sound like an overreach, but Dov Fox, Director of the Center for Health Law Policy and bioethics at USD said if and only if, he emphasized, a vaccine has been scientifically validated as safe, effective, and medically necessary by relevant medical experts, it’s legal.

"I did not know that,” San Diegan Penney Letred-Samons said. Chances are, she’s not alone.

According to Fox, you could also lose your job for refusing an employer-mandated vaccine. 

Wait. Employers can demand you take a vaccine, too?

“Wow,” Naudia Pate said.

 “If my company forced it and I didn't want to do it I would be OK with moving on. It is more about principals than the vaccine,” Jared McSweeney.

Such mandates are based on hundred-year-old case law, according to Fox.

In 1905 the Supreme Court upheld the states' authority to enforce compulsory vaccination.

Letred-Samons already made up her mind that she would get the first available vaccine.

"I want to get vaccinated. I want to do my part to going back to a normal world,” she said.

Pate, meanwhile, is an absolute no.

“I don't know. Are they going to microchip us next?” she said. “I don't want to take the vaccine personally. I don't. I just think it is too new."

A vaccination mandate in this political climate is not the best idea, but alternatives like segregating the vaccinated from the unvaccinated to stop the spread could be even worse, Fox said. 

There are possible exemptions to a vaccine mandate for pregnant women, or for someone with a pre-existing condition that might make a vaccine unsafe.

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