The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways. Social distancing, remote meetings, curbside pickup, and working and learning from home are the new norm. To be vaccinated or not be vaccinated is a question, and many struggles to find the correct answer. Can we be mandated to receive the vaccine, or should each person choose what is right for them?

As mandates seem to be trickling down from business owners and President Biden, states are seeking legal protections for people who aren’t vaccinated in the form of anti-discrimination laws.

Can the Government Forcibly require U.S. Citizens to get vaccinated?

No citizen can be forced to take a vaccine legally. You can not be physically restrained and given the vaccine by any public health authority. However, this is not the same as a vaccine mandate. A vaccine mandate is setting conditions on your returning to society or participating in certain activities.

Private employers and states are setting vaccine mandates as a condition of working at their company because they legally can. Employees have the right to refuse to be vaccinated but have no absolute right to legal protection. The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that we can set vaccine mandates at the state or local level. So right now, we have Supreme Court precedents allowing that to occur.

How Florida is Handling Mandatory Vaccinations

Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning proof of vaccination or vaccine passports even as the delta variant has hit the unvaccinated the hardest. The Pfizer shot has been FDA approved. Although Florida requires various vaccines for students to start school, requiring the Coronavirus vaccine is illegal.

Florida businesses and governments that require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations from customers will face $5,000 fines. Bill SB2006, a newly passed bill, bans businesses, governments, and schools from requiring proof of vaccination. Penalties can’t exceed $5,000 per violation. Beginning on August 16, companies, governments, and schools will have a chance to appeal any fines received for violations. If the appeal is lost, entities have 30 days to pay the fine.

Under SB 2006, businesses and governments can mandate vaccinations among employees, although Governor DeSantis disagrees with mandating vaccines and believes that doing so is a violation of personal freedoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida ranks 19th out of 50 states in vaccination rate, with 68 percent of eligible residents vaccinated. Many cruise ships leaving from Florida are only boarding vaccinated guests, further complicating Florida’s ban on mandatory vaccinations.

Paul J. Burkhart

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