Should Vaccines Be Mandatory?

BCHIP is a pro-vaccine organization because vaccines can help you protect yourself and your family. We also believe in the intelligent and peaceful discussion of whether someone or their family should be vaccinated. Every family in Bucks County should make the best decisions for their members. The US population is very polarized on many issues, though recent polls show that most Americans want to receive an updated COVID-19 vaccine. 

Mandatory vs. Forced Vaccination

They sound alike, but there are key differences. 

A mandatory vaccination would involve the fact that you must be vaccinated to get some benefit or be able to participate in something, or you will face some kind of penalty if you’re not vaccinated. If vaccinations are mandatory, you likely need the vaccination if you want to go to work, see a movie, or have your kids attend public school. Usually, there are limits if a person has a health condition or they have a sincerely held religious belief that contradicts vaccine use. 

These types of vaccinations have generally held up in US courts. Mandatory vaccinations might not violate someone’s constitutional rights, according to the National Constitution Center. The cases go back to the early 1900s and concern smallpox vaccinations.  

When deciding a 1905 case in which the plaintiff claimed a Massachusetts town, by mandating vaccination and fining those who refused, was unconstitutional, the US Supreme Court ruled that states, because of their general police powers, could enact mandatory vaccine laws to protect citizens without violating their rights. States are empowered to pass laws that protect the public’s health, safety, and general welfare. 

116 years later, the court decided not to take the appeal of a lower court decision ruling the University of Indiana’s mandatory vaccination program was constitutional. Eight students sued the university, claiming their constitutional rights would be violated by mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, even when exemptions for religious, ethical, and medical reasons practically guaranteed anyone seeking an exemption would get one, according to the New York Times

On the other hand, a forced vaccination could entail physically restraining an adult and administering a vaccination, or vaccinating a child at school with their parents having no say in the matter. 

If the Situation Demands It, Mandatory Vaccinations Are the Right Thing to Do

If a disease outbreak threatens enough people with severe complications or death, it’s appropriate for government and employers to mandate vaccine use, as long as there are exceptions for religious beliefs and health conditions that may make a vaccine a greater health threat than the disease. There would need to be a cataclysmic, society-threatening disease outbreak to even consider forced vaccinations. 

With rights come responsibilities. If you choose not to be vaccinated, you should be mindful of others since you may spread the disease to those unable to be safely vaccinated. You should comply with restrictions meant to protect others. Just as your right to swing your fist ends at my nose, your right to do whatever you want after not being vaccinated should end if your choice endangers others’ health and safety. 

For more vaccine information, call the Bucks County Health Improvement Partnership (BCHIP) at 267-291-7882 or complete our online contact form.  


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