In a story that would really blow up if it ever expands beyond the two cents of an attorney into actual policy, a law professor at the University of San Diego says that states could fine or jail people who would refuse a coronavirus vaccine if/when one is made available. Note that this would seem like the type of thing to sort out prior to an actual vaccine hitting the market.
Dov Fox, a law professor and the director of the Center for Health Law Policy and Bioethics at the aforementioned university, says that states would have the authority to enact a punishment on those who refuse vaccines if they (meaning the states) choose to do so. These punishments, which we already said could include fines/jail, could also work by just refusing to let you go about your day as normal.
“States can compel vaccinations in more or less intrusive ways,” Fox said in an interview, according to ABC 15. “They can limit access to schools or services or jobs if people don’t get vaccinated. They could force them to pay a fine or even lock them up in jail.”
In what seems highly relevant, Fox made sure to note that U.S. authorities have never actually tried to jail people who refuse a vaccine, but he did point out that countries like France have gone that route.
*Pretends to be smart* Precedent that would allow the U.S. to take such a measure dates back to 1905 during a U.S. Supreme Court Case, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, in which the court said Massachusetts could fine those who refused smallpox vaccinations. That case created a legal basis for school vaccine requirements.
“Courts have found that when medical necessity requires it, the public health outweighs the individual rights and liberties at stake,” Fox added.
Fox made sure to note that a vaccine mandate could lead to a shit-show, which you may have already thought about on account of seeing frequent updates regarding people's (sometimes violent) opposition to wearing masks. He added that just because states could do it doesn't necessarily indicate that it's the best policy (the man's just offering his legal expertise on the subject).
ABC also notes that, just last year, New York City passed an ordinance that allowed fines to be levied against those who refused a vaccination for measles.
On a federal level, Fox said that the closest you may see to a national vaccination requirement would be some sort of tax penalty. He further stated that, given the current Supreme Court, a mandate requiring vaccines would probably be deemed unconstitutional.
That leaves it up to states. Fox said that, for states that would opt to go that route, they probably shouldn't do so until vaccines are made available to the masses because "otherwise you create an underclass of people who are less safe and without access to the basic means of society."
He added that exemptions would need to be made for people who actually have medical risks (see: pregnant people) but that exemptions would not need to be made for religious/philosophical reasons.
“Religious exemptions are not constitutionally required by the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause, provided that the vaccine mandates don’t single out religion; they’re not motivated by a desire to interfere with it,” he added.
He also says that private companies could fire employees who refuse the vaccinations for anything but actual medical reasons. This is due to the risk it would pose to the business/actual vaccinated employees. If a business were able to show that unvaccinated employees are leading to significant costs, then employers would not need to give any exemptions for religious reasons.
Something to chew on or ignore (it's your life). Prep for another addition to the culture war.