As the rapid quest for a Covid-19 vaccine continues, questions are arising about how such a vaccine would be distributed and administered to the public. Who would get it first? Would everyone be required to get it? What would the punishment be for those who don't? Can the government require everyone to get it?
One of the nation's most respected legal minds attempted to answer some of those questions during a recent live Facebook episode of the show Crowdsource the Truth. Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School professor, made it clear---yes, the government can legally require everyone to get the vaccination. "You have no constitutional right to endanger the public and spread the disease, even if you disagree," says Dershowitz. "You have no right not to be vaccinated."
Dershowitz added that not only is it legal to mandate the vaccine, but he supports such a move. "If a safe vaccine is developed for Covid-19, I hope it is mandated, and I will defend it and will argue that in the Supreme Court of the United States," he tells the show.
Allison Winnike, president and CEO of Texas-based nonprofit The Immunization Partnership, tells KTRH that Dershowitz is legally correct. "The Supreme Court has held that the government may impose limits on individual liberties, if necessary to protect the public's health," she says.
But Winnike notes that any restrictions on liberty must be narrowly focused and as non-intrusive as possible. Therefore, she doesn't foresee mass mandated vaccinations in the U.S. "We've never had widespread forced vaccinations, people always have a choice," she says. "If they choose not to be vaccinated, they maybe won't be able to participate in some activities, or perhaps they might have to pay a fine."