Following last week's announcement that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is very effective, Political Union has decided to debate whether or not taking a coronavirus vaccine should be mandatory when one is released to the public. With this in mind, here is some information about coronavirus vaccine polling and the status of mandatory vaccinations in the United States.
The most recent polling data suggests that many Americans do not want to take a vaccine immediately after its release. In September, only 50% of people told Gallup that they would get an FDA-approved vaccine if it was available at no cost, and a Pew Research poll from the same month had similar results. For whatever reason, it appears that people’s willingness to take a potential vaccine is declining as the pandemic goes on. That 50% figure was down from 66% when Gallup polled Americans in the middle of July, with the numbers in the September Pew poll also being significantly lower than a poll conducted in May. It’s possible that these polling figures were caused by skepticism of a hypothetical pre-election vaccine announced by Trump, as Democrats’ trust in a potential vaccine declined the most according to Gallup. (In September, Republicans’ faith in a potential vaccine actually rose.) Unfortunately, I haven’t found any polls on this matter conducted after the election (or the Pfizer announcement for that matter), so it is hard to say exactly what percentage of Americans would be currently willing to get a vaccine.
Currently, all 50 US states have laws on the books that require children to get vaccinated before going to school. However, all of these states, except for California, New York, Maine, West Virginia, and Mississippi, allow for religious exemptions to this law. Additionally, 15 states also allow for nonreligious personal belief exemptions. One can also receive a medical exemption in every state, though parents of only .2% of children seek this type of exemption. Skepticism of children’s vaccines has grown during the 21st century, with only 84% of people telling Gallup that vaccinating children is extremely/very important in 2019, compared to 94% in 2001. However, the 84% figure has stayed the same from a 2015 poll. Meanwhile, in terms of non-school, mandatory vaccines that already exist, many workplaces require employees to receive a vaccine before coming to work. For example, hospitals and senior care centers commonly require flu vaccines for their workers.
Dr. Fauci has said that unlike in countries like Australia, the federal government won’t mandate coronavirus vaccination when a vaccine comes out---though this was before the election. Concurrently, President-elect Biden told a town hall audience that he would consider recommending making the vaccine mandatory based on a litany of factors, though he, like Dr, Fauci, does not believe that the president has the power to enforce mandatory vaccination. However, legal analysts think that state governments can make vaccines mandatory, so Biden could recommend mandatory vaccination to America’s governors.
Welcome to Political Union's blog! All opinions expressed are those of our writers, and not NU Political Union.