Thursday, August 6, 2020

Setting the Stage for Mandatory Vaccinations

With the ongoing global research into a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine taking place, the next stage of the pandemic will be fought over whether the vaccines will be mandatory.  Thanks to a recent report by the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) we now have a template for the legal and ethical issues that governments will be confronting as they force their citizens to accept administration of an unprecedented coronavirus vaccine.


The NYSBA appointed a Task Force to address the legal issues presented by the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), identifying legal and regulatory barriers to care during the pandemic and how to balance individual and communal interests when governments respond to health emergencies.   While the NYSBA report covers a very wide spectrum of issues that faced the State of New York during the pandemic, for the purposes of this posting, I will focus only on their observations and recommendations regarding mass mandatory vaccinations for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


Let's look at some background information about vaccinations in the United States, specifically, the vaccine for seasonal influenza.  While it is, to some degree comparing apples to oranges, the plans for mass vaccinations in the United States faces some substantial hurdles.  This is rather interesting given the rather pitiful effectiveness rate (VE) of seasonal influenza vaccines as shown here:



...and the rather low flu vaccine uptake rates as shown here:



...there is obviously a reason why state governments and the federal governments will need to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory.


Here are the Task Force's recommendations: (64)


"When a vaccine becomes available, there will be a majority of Americans who want the vaccination.  However, some Americans may push back on the COVID-19 vaccination for religious, philosophical or personal reasons.  After testing and as supported by scientific evidence, once a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, the NYSBA Health Law Section recommends:


That a vaccine subject to scientific evidence of safety and efficacy be made widely available, and widely encouraged, and if the public health authorities conclude necessary, required, unless a person's physician deems vaccination to be clinically inappropriate; and


Steps to ensure a planned vaccination program:


(a) Rapid mass vaccination achieved through equitable distribution;


(b) Prioritizing health care workers and individuals at highest risk for complications and virus transmission to others if inadequate vaccine supply; and


(c) Linguistically and culturally competent vaccine educational and acceptance program."


The report goes on to note that mandatory vaccinations are supported by the authority of the state police power when the vaccinations are necessary to protect the public good (i.e. the health of the public).  Constitutional challenges under the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment and the substantive due process clause of the Fourth Amendment have failed when courts have deemed that individual interests are outweighs by the public benefit.


Here is a key quote:


"The gravity of COVID-19 presents compelling justification for State legislatures and Congress to mandate a COVID-19 vaccination...


Before the COVID-19 outbreak, a bill was introduced to federally mandate vaccination for school children.  Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, additional bills and resolutions have been introduced by the 116th Congress regarding vaccination and immunization.  They include resolutions by the House and Senate, supporting the GAVI Alliance, which supports vaccines and immunizations in developing countries."


For those of you who are not aware, the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization and officially known as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is another one of Bill Gates’ health care investments along with the World Health Organization as shown here:



...and here:



Let's go back to the NYSBA report.  Here is an additional quote:


"In the “Protecting Seniors Through Immunization Act of 2019,” (S.1872, 116th Congress) the Medicare program will encourage and provide free vaccinations to seniors already covered.  The “Vaccinate All Children Act of 2019” (H.R.2527, 116th Congress) will require vaccinations for every student at a public elementary and secondary school to be vaccinated in order to receive federal grants, with only medical exemptions allowed.  Given these proposals, vaccination distribution and funding will likely be heavily influenced by Congress.


Let's close this posting with a final quote from the report:


"The devasting impact of COVID-19 has led to the call for solutions that will help return our society to normalcy, elevating the importance of ensuring scientists and legislators move cautiously but quickly to provide vaccines and treatments. The history of unsuccessful attempts to challenge mandatory vaccinations may reduce the extent of opposition."


In other words, if the proposals released by the New York State Bar Association are adopted on a nationwide basis, we can count on the "no vaccination, no life" narrative when a vaccine becomes available.

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