Once There Is A Vaccine For COVID-19, Then What?

Pharmacological companies have been racing to try to develop a vaccine for CODID-19. As far as we are aware, there are seven companies worldwide that are doing this, four of which are in the United States.

The question then becomes, “once there is a vaccine, then what?”

“How would the vaccine be distributed?” and “who gets the vaccine first?” “will vaccinations be mandatory?” are but a myriad of questions that need to be answered.

This past Tuesday, one of those questions may have been answered pending approval of the the head of the Center for Disease Control:

A panel of independent experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a public meeting on Tuesday voted that health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first to receive the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine.

The vote was 13-1.

The recommendations now must be approved by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield before the vaccine can be distributed to states and ultimately to the groups part of the Phase 1A distribution plans.

The plan to distribute the vaccine to health care workers and long-term care residents is also dependent on authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which still has to approve an application of emergency use from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, the first to apply, and biotech company Moderna. Both companies have developed coronavirus vaccine candidates that have proven over 90% effective in late-stage clinical trials.

As vaccines become more and more available, the question then becomes: “can the state mandate vaccination and can people refuse to be vaccinated?”

Florida House of Representatives Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) has filed a bill that news organizations are saying eliminates Florida’s ability to mandate vaccinations.

Florida lawmaker files bill to strip state of power to mandate vaccines for residents

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, one Florida lawmaker wants to strip the state of its power to require vaccinations.

This is quite misleading.

House Bill 6003 does not limit the State from making a vaccine mandate. It only eliminates the ability of the State Health Officer from making such a mandate.

Sabatini’s bill looks to eliminate the word “vaccinate” from current law:

From the bill:

The State Health Officer, upon declaration of a public health emergency, may take actions that are necessary to protect the public health. Such actions include, but are not limited to:


(4) Ordering an individual to be examined, tested, vaccinated, treated, isolated, or quarantined or communicable diseases that have significant morbidity or mortality and present a severe danger to public health. Individuals who are unable or unwilling to be examined, tested, vaccinated, treated for reasons of health, religion, or conscience may be subjected to isolation or quarantine.

a. Examination, testing, vaccination, or treatment may be performed by any qualified person authorized by the State Health Officer.
b. If the individual poses a danger to the public health, the State Health Officer may subject the individual to isolation or quarantine. If there is no practical method to isolate or quarantine the individual, the State Health Officer may use any means necessary to vaccinate or treat the individual.

Any order of the State Health Officer given to effectuate this paragraph shall be immediately enforceable by a law enforcement officer under s. 381.0012.

The strike thoughs are what Sabatini is seeking to eliminate.

This bill does not, however, forbid the legislature from passing a law that mandates vaccination or the Governor from making a mandate to require vaccinations. (Governor DeSantis has said that he will not make such a mandate.)

Just reading the bill shows that the headlines are wrong.

What is concerning to us is the idea that under the law, Florida Statute 381.0012, which Sabatini’s bill did not attack, allows:

(3) [T]he department [of Health] may commence and maintain all proper and necessary actions and proceedings to compel the performance of any act specifically required of any person, officer, or board by any law of this state relating to public health.
(4) The department may appear before any trial court judge empowered to issue warrants in criminal cases and request the issuance of a warrant. The trial court judge shall issue a warrant directed to any sheriff, deputy, or police officer to assist in any way to carry out the purpose and intent of this chapter.
(5) It shall be the duty of every state and county attorney, sheriff, police officer, and other appropriate city and county officials upon request to assist the department or any of its agents in enforcing the state health laws, rules, and orders adopted under this chapter.

Therefore by law, the State of Florida’s Department of Health could, acting under a law passed by the legislature or a Executive Order go to a judge, get a warrant, and come arrest people that are not vaccinated and perhaps keep them in prison until they agree to be vaccinated.

We say “perhaps” because the law is unclear as to whether the government can lock someone up indefinitely for failing to comply with a health order. If you are wondering whether the State could arrest you, strap you to a gurney and insert a needle, that does not seem likely.

There are a couple of court cases that are on point.

The first is Commonwealth v. Jacobson which is a 1905 case where the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that a mandate to be vaccinated was Constitutional. However, the Court also said:

[i]f a person should deem it important that vaccination should not be performed in his case, and the authorities should think otherwise, it is not in their power to vaccinate him by force, and the worst that could happen to him under the statute would be the payment of the penalty of $5. (emphasis ours)

Therefore the state cannot forcibly inject you with a vaccine. They can fine you, however. In today’s money, a $5 fine would be about $150 bucks.

That case runs smack dab into Buck v. Bell, which was a 1927 case before the Supreme Court that ruled that Carrie Buck, a “feeble minded woman” and whose family for three generations had displayed the same feeble mindedness could be forcibly sterilized (her Fallopian tubes cut) under a Virginia statute.

This was during the “eugenics” period of the US where people with mental illnesses, disabilities, etc., where effectively “culled” from the reproductive pool by sterilization.

In his decision, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote:

We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.

Buck was not given the option of paying a fine or spending time in jail, and Holmes somehow managed to believe the Jacobson case supported compulsory vaccination when it clearly did not.

As time has passed, we have moved away from Buck v. Bell (thank goodness) yet the Supreme Court has not overturned it directly. As some authors have said, “good luck arguing Buck v. Bell in front of a judge today.”

Some people say that we require vaccinations for kids attending school, and we do. However, the penalty for failure to vaccinate is not the police and a nurse on a doorstep giving a child vaccines. The penalty is that the child cannot attend school.

We believe such would be the case with states trying to force people to get a COVID-19 vaccine. If you refuse, you may be required to pay a fine, or be denied certain governmental services, but the government cannot physically force you to be vaccinated.

That is not to say they will not try.

That is also not to say that if the vaccines are shown to be safe and effective that we don’t believe that you should be vaccinated – you should.

We believe that not because the government is telling us that we should. If this pandemic has shown the world anything, it is that governments don’t know how to move forward with solutions. The cry of the masses seems to be “do something!” rather than “do the right thing.” There are too many people saying “you’re not the boss of me!” simply because they have an anti-government leaning.

We certainly are smart enough, can study enough, and then come to our own conclusion as to the vaccination.

We know our readers can do the same.

Here’s Sabitino’s proposed bill:

Comments are closed.