The recent Covid19 has been catastrophic on a global scale. Covid19 has triggered substantial challenges to the political, social, and economic institutions and majorly to public health. When the virus was first reported in the U.S killing at least 12,000 people, experts and professionals have ventured to find a solution to this problem. So far, the FDA has approved a number of vaccines in the United States; Moderna NIAID vaccine, Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. All the FDA vaccines have been recommended by the ACIP and their vaccination began. However, there have been legal and cultural perspectives pertaining to the mandatory covid19 vaccination. This project will focus on two level 1 questions; the ethical perspective of inquiry; ‘what laws govern or pertain to the issue?’ and the cultural perspective of inquiry ‘Which cultural traditions affect the treatment?’ and composed level 2 prompts for each inquiry.
ETHICAL Perspective of Inquiry
Level 1 Research Question: What laws govern or pertain to the issue?
As millions and millions in the United States match towards getting the Covid19 vaccines, some businesses, professionals, employers, professors, affiliate institutions, universities, and colleges are weighing on making Covid19 vaccination mandatory for everyone under their umbrella. However, a popular claim states that mandatory Covid19 vaccination is against law stated in the US constitution. Under the Emergency Use Authorization Act cited in ‘21 USCodeSS360bbb-3’ federal law, no government, business or employer has the legal right to make vaccination mandatory unless the vaccine has been evaluated for at least 2 years (Funke, 2021). This law governs the mandatory vaccination of the three Covid19 vaccines authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Covid19 vaccines have been around for less than a year, a period far less than the approved legal period for mandatory use. Therefore, there is no legal basis for mandatory Covid19 vaccination from the standard argument of the law. However, the same section of the law authorizes drugs and vaccinations for use in an emergency. This is spelled out to the secretary of HHS whose department oversees the FDA. The emergency is authorized for use in the designated departments; Defense, HHS, and Homeland Security Secretaries. This has nothing to do with the 2-year evaluation period in stopping the spread of the virus. Therefore, to be clear, the statute does not direct any private actor, business, university, or employer to enact emergency vaccination but specifically addresses the actions of the president, the HHS secretary, and other federal officials. States, businesses, and employers also have the right to acquire vaccination but there are limitations for people with disabilities and other citing philosophical, religious, and medical reasons.
LEVEL 2 COMPOSED QUESTION: are there any legal gray areas in the covid19 vaccination program?
Especially the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) vaccines, there is a wide gray area in the requirement of vaccines since there is nothing in the books to particularly prohibit these mandates. 21 U.S.Code§360bbb–3 has been around since 2004 and may require court intervention regarding a number of untested and undefined legal issues surrounding mandatory Covid19 vaccination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on December 16 2020 published that employers can set a mandatory vaccination requirement for all employees that pose a direct threat to the safety of the workplace. Representing all other private institutions, this is a gray area as one section of the EUA law provides limitations limited only to federal officials. However, the Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 offer some exemptions for employees with disabilities or sincerely held beliefs related to philosophical, religious, and medical reasons. In such limitations, the employer must show that the employee is a threat to the institution’s safety and to others that cannot be reduced by reasonable accommodation. The EOCC rules that such individuals can be fired (Rothstein et al., 2021). Likened to the ‘no shoe no shirt policy,’ businesses can also require customers to produce ‘vaccine passports’ or proof of Covid19 vaccination to enjoy sale services. However, advanced republicans are leading legislation in more than 40 states barring employers from engaging in mandatory employee vaccination and practices of asking customers for ‘vaccination passports.’ To darken the gray area, there is a section in the law that provides the provision “the option to accept or refuse.” This suggestion is made to the HHS secretary to direct people to make an informed consent in accepting the vaccination. To make it straight, the law here seems to prohibit mandatory vaccination. As Stephenson (2021), the claim that businesses and governments cant mandate Covid19 vaccinations is partly false as there is nothing in the law to show the limitations of the Government and employers in enacting mandatory vaccination. However, as we wait for the court’s decision, informed consent must always be stressed when it comes to investigational drugs.
CULTURAL Perspective of Inquiry
Level 1 Research Questions: Which cultural values and/or norms influence the issue?
There are deep-seated value systems and cultural divergent viewpoints that influence popular public claims on mandatory Covid19 vaccinations. I will discuss three; individual rights versus public health, religious objections, and mistrust of vaccines out of suspicion.
Individual rights in relation to public health stance on vaccination is a major source of controversy. Public health and safety may prompt the authorities to offer compulsory immunization of the Covid19 vaccine but this may be impacted by the longstanding tension between public health and individual rights. This case was argued 100 years ago during Jacobson versus Massachusetts Supreme Court case 1905. In the case, a resident claimed that the law violated his right of care by attempting a smallpox vaccine on his own body, a body he knew best. Although the court rejected Jacobson’s challenge to show limitations of individual liberty to protect public health, individualism is a strong tenet of the American ideals and values (Severyn, 1995). Therefore, American citizens want to exercise their individual right to protect themselves and their children against ideologically non-supported vaccines. Next, certain beliefs and religious practices oppose mandatory or basic vaccination. There are ethical dilemmas created by beliefs that the body is sacred and should be healed by God and not chemicals, and also dilemmas related to the use of human tissue to create the vaccines. Most religious scientists especially from the Catholic Church recognize the value of vaccines in promoting public safety but other fundamentalist churches mainly rely on prayer for healing. These arguments call for massive vaccination exemptions regardless of the risk. Lastly, a major part of the exemption is the apprehension held by the people regarding the Covid19 vaccines. There are people among us who do not trust vaccines mainly due to historical and social reasons. For the past 20 years, sections of the black race in Asia and Africa still believe that Western Vaccines Tetanus, Measles, and Polio immunization are plotted by the western world to sterilize their women. These beliefs are still held among certain races. In the recent past, suspicions beyond ethnicities have risen regarding these vaccines. For instance, the fact that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers life-threatening effects such as allergic reactions in the body is a notable source of suspicion (COVID & Team, 2021). This and other divergent opinions continue to increase vaccinating objections in the nation and the world at large.
LEVEL 2 COMPOSED QUESTION: what is the driving force of cultural hesitancy towards Covid19 vaccination?
Covid19 vaccination hesitancy mainly stems from a long-standing distrust in the healthcare system. Major events cultivated in the system have induced a decline to get vaccinated among disproportionate communities such as Black and Latinx. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013) documents that blacks were blocked from accessing syphilis treatment because researchers wanted to about the progression of cancer disease using cells obtained from a black woman, Henrietta Lacks without her consent in 2009. Recently, further concern has been raised by Trump’s administration in handling data with missteps and misinformation. In most cases, these cultural beliefs stem from a life experience that caused the mistrust. Moreover, there is a concept called Fatalismo among Latinx (Historyofvaccines. 2021). This concept states that a person’s fate is predetermined and nothing can change it. Therefore, despite efforts of the government to reduce hesitancy, consideration should be directed towards these deep-rooted beliefs.
Funke, D. (2021). Fact check: Federal law does not prevent states, businesses, employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccines. Retrieved 15 July 2021, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2021/05/25/fact-check-federal-law-doesnt-prohibit-covid-19-vaccine-mandates/5062104001/
Rothstein, M. A., Parmet, W. E., & Reiss, D. R. (2021). Employer-Mandated Vaccination for COVID-19. Retrieved from https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2020.306166
Stephenson, J. (2021, April). As Employers and Colleges Introduce COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates, Wider Use “Remains an Open Question”. In JAMA Health Forum (Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. e210874-e210874). American Medical Association.
COVID, C., & Team, R. (2021). Allergic reactions including anaphylaxis after receipt of the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine—United States, December 14–23, 2020. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 70(2), 46. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7002e1.htm
Severyn, K. M. (1995). Jacobson v. Massachusetts: impact on informed consent and vaccine policy. J. Pharmacy & L., 5, 249.
Historyofvaccines. (2021). Cultural Perspectives on Vaccination | History of Vaccines. Retrieved 15 July 2021, from https://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/cultural-perspectives-vaccination
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). US public health service syphilis study at Tuskegee. USA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.