According to politicians, educational institutions, and the White House, COVID-19 vaccines can be mandated as a benefit in the public’s best interest. In the two largest cities by population, municipal workers must receive one of the three FDA approved vaccines or be tested multiple times a week. Private institutions such as the Ivies are not offering alternative options, and the same is true for public state schools (exception: religious beliefs). Thirdly, the White House is expected to impose a similar mandate that would apply to approximately twenty-five thousand federal employees.
If someone is a supporter of a vaccination mandate, there are two constitutional law cases from the Supreme Court that would support this position. First, in 1905, the high court ruled in a 7-2 majority that ”the city of Cambridge could fine residents who refused to receive smallpox injections (vaccines).” Then, in 1922, another case made its way to the Supreme Court, but this time involving children. Following in the footsteps of the Jacobson V. Massachusetts case, the justices overseeing the Zucht V. King case ruled unanimously that [schools] “could provide for compulsory vaccination.”
However, not all are on board. Some southern state governors have banned legislation that would allow for a vaccine passport, and the majority of large city mayors have not yet come to the belief that a mandatory inoculation is necessary. There is also the fear that by requiring vaccines (despite the CDC’s new recommendation of universal masking once again), that it would remove any incentive to receive it, as vaccinated and unvaccinated people would have to abide by the same protocols.
Overseas, in Israel, newly elected Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is taking a similar approach to the institutions and left-wing politicians. In an effort to end the pandemic, his administration will require negative tests or the vaccine for all people when entering public places such as theaters, sports games, museums, and even synagogues. He believes that these drastic measures will allow Israelis to “maintain daily life” and end the “endangering of [their] freedom to work, the freedom of children to learn, and the freedom to celebrate festivities with the family.”
On one hand, it can easy to see the benefits of vaccinations against COVID-19, as nearly ninety percent of the new hospitalizations stem from the unvaccinated population. On the contrary, though, people should have the freedom to decide what is best for them and their health, and it may still be unclear whether or not the federal government has a say in this debate.