Considerations in mandating a new Covid-19 vaccine in the USA for children and adults
Dorit R. Reiss; Arthur L. Caplan
Published: May 2020
Journal: Journal of Law and the Biosciences,
As cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread globally and across the USA, reaching over 140,000 US cases by March 30, 2020 (a number that is almost certainly an under estimate, given the lack of testing across states), scientists and companies throughout the world are searching for a response, a treatment or vaccine. Multiple companies are currently working on developing vaccines for the disease. A vaccine will, by the most optimistic estimates, not be available for at least 12–18 months; but while there is no certainty, there are good chances one or more of variable efficacy will, eventually, be available. When it is, one potential question states will have to address is whether the vaccine should be mandated for school children and anyone else. This article examines this question; the answer, naturally, is ‘it depends’, but this article offers guidance about the ethical and legal considerations for making the decision. The article will address this in three parts: the ethical considerations that affect whether a COVID-19 vaccine mandate is appropriate, potential legal constraints, and practical and political considerations.