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COVID-19 Vaccines Could Become Mandatory and What History Tells Us About Outbreaks

will states require a covid-19 vaccination The promise of a COVID-19 vaccine is on the horizon from multiple pharmaceutical companies. However, many people are questioning whether getting vaccinated will be mandatory.   

This could certainly happen. Schmidt Kramer Partner Scott Cooper shared his thoughts in an interview with FOX 43. He says that historically, states have had the power to mandate vaccinations with certain exceptions due to a 115-year-old U.S. Supreme Court case concerning an outbreak of smallpox.

In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), state law allowed cities to require residents to be vaccinated against the smallpox or otherwise face a fine. "The U.S. Supreme Court said if there is a health or safety emergency of substantial nature, the state and its police powers can require vaccinations," Cooper said.

Although most private employers will not be able to require their employees to get vaccinated, health care establishments, such as nursing homes, could require residents to get a COVID-19 vaccine or face removal from the facility. Even so, a vaccine mandate will likely not happen anytime in the near future.

Currently, many states are getting ready for distribution, and each one has had to submit a COVID-19 vaccination plan with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There have been few details regarding Pennsylvania’s vaccination plan from Governor Tom Wolf and his administration. The Department of Health is expecting limited doses in the initial phase of its vaccination program. The focus will be on making sure that health care workers, first responders, critical workers and those with high-risk conditions are the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The final number of vaccines distributed and which vaccine will receive FDA approval remain uncertain. The department will implement a plan based on the three-phased approach outlined by the CDC.

Phase 1 has already started and is geared towards hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, County and Municipal Health Departments, and DOH State Health Centers. Phase 2 will expand its vaccine distribution to those involved in broader health care administration, and Phase 3 will focus on the populations not identified in the first two phases.