In the wake of a pandemic could Americans be forced to get a vaccine?

So, it’s 18 months from now and an effective vaccine that isn’t worse than the coronavirus is available. And, unlike the test kits in early 2020 it’s plentiful and error-free. Could the US government look back on the past 18 months and decide “yeah, no way, we’re not doing this again” and force people to get the vaccine? And I mean everyone, except people whose doctors swear it would literally kill them (It’s now recommended that people with egg allergies get the flu shot regardless and be monitored so this would be a small group). Maybe they add the year’s flu vaccine to the mix too, and kill two birds with one stone, all in the name of public health. Does that survive constitutionality?

The short version is that the power of quarantine to prevent the spread of infectious disease is one that derives from common law and is within the police power of the states, and through statutes relating to interstate commerce, the federal government. It is one of the few situations apart from crime where the government can force you to be confined to certain areas without running afoul of the 13th Amendment, such as jury duty or conscription.

If it truly came down to a choice of: 1) we let this person go and he will contract and spread the disease, or 2) he takes a vaccine and will be fine, I would be confident that the government could offer the detained person a choice to take the vaccine, but if he did not choose to take the vaccine, he remains in quarantine.

A short summary can be found here:

Are we talking about the federal or state government doing this? The federal government only has the powers it’s been specifically granted, though in recent times those granted powers have been interpreted very broadly, and it’s not hard to see an interstate commerce argument, say, for disease control. But the state governments can do anything that they’re not specifically prohibited from doing, and I don’t see any Constitutional right that would be infringed by mandatory vaccines.

The case law on this topic says that a state can fine someone for not being vaccinated and can prevent an unvaccinated child from attending public school. As far as I can tell, there is no case law addressing the power of a state to forcibly vaccinate someone against his will. That would presumably run up against medical ethics issues, though.

IN a word, Typhoid Mary … they locked her away for decades because she refused to stop handling food [in short, she was a cook and she passed typhoid to a number of people when she was working as a cook. ]

I get vaccinated for as much as possible, I get the flu vaccine every year. If and when they come out with the vaccine for it, I will get it - though I understand that actually having it does not confer immunity for it in the future, so I doubt they will actually manage to create one. It may be like the flu shot, where they change out which ones you get every year depending on what is trending.

It’s the war on infectious disease!

Bring back The Draft. Then vaccinate the draftees.

The maximum age of eligibility would need to be raised a bit, like to 98.

Either the federal government or all 50 states agreeing to do it, which would amount to the same.

Turns out there was a supreme court case in 1905, Jacobson v Massachusetts, that upheld the Mass, Board of Health’s authority to require vaccination against smallpox during a smallpox epidemic. Does this add any weight to at least individual states compelling a vaccine for this pandemic?

The “personal objection” loophole which has allowed too many kids to skip school-required immunizations because of anti-vaxxer parents will need to be closed. There will be fistfights in court, and it will land in the laps of the Supreme Court.

People absolutely should be able to refuse immunizations. But if they wish to live in society and reap the benefits of living, working, and being educated in society, then they need to conform to safety standards.

I’d be all in favor of requiring people to either get vaccinated or stay quarantined. But how would the authorities determine if these people were staying quarantined?

Those ankle thing they use for house arrests?

In India they’ve busted people who were supposed to be self-isolating after exposure by marking their hands with an ink that takes weeks to wash off. Refuse–> get inked–> get reported, would probably kinda work here too, though gloves would be a problem.

IIRC the legality was iffy, right? If science is a tough sell in 2020, imagine what it was like back in those days…

I’d like to add to the conversation the Public Health Emergency order that we’re currently under. AKA …PHE Oorder…

If you haven’t read it I suggest you should. I read it a couple of months ago, pay attention to the numbers and look up what they mean. I’m not proficient in legalese to accurately post what I think they mean.

Hopefully some will explain it in simpler terms.

Also check out 1135 section of PHE

very important, also we’re still under Stafford act.

I am pessimistic that we’d actually do this. Not because we legally can’t, but because if we can’t even give our regulations to keep people at home, not working, etc… any teeth, what are the chances that we could actually compel people to be vaccinated?

I did not see anything in the PHE order that would compel mandatory immunizations. It mostly details which federally-funded entities can be “raided” for funds, and allows some mandatory red tape requirements (HIPPA and use of drugs still being tested) to be set aside. There3also sections where health professionals may work in states where they are not licensed, during the PHE.

There needs to ce a section that says “hold out your arm, roll up your sleeve, and SHUT UP about it!”

I can see an agreement by all health insurers to make immunizations mandatory. It would start with any and all government-funded insurance, like Medicare, Medicaid, TriCare/Champus, VA, etc. Then privately-funded insurance could stick the requirement for mandatory immunizations in the fine print, where “agree not to sue” and “mandatory arbitration” is spelled out. Nobody reads that crap anyway.

I doubt the anti-vaxxers are wealthy enough to self-pay. An appendectomy will send them crying for a job with health benefits.