Public health experts believe coronavirus vaccine mandates could become more likely if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally approves the shots used in the United States.
Currently, the three vaccines being used in the United States — Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson — have not been formally approved by the FDA. Rather, they are currently operating under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). However, some health experts believe the vaccines could turn into mandates if the FDA approves the shots, particularly due to the low vaccination rates in some areas of the country.
“I think once the vaccines go through full FDA approval, everything should be on the table, and I think that everything will be on the table at the level of municipalities, states, employers, venues, government agencies,” Andy Slavitt, the Biden administration’s former coronavirus response coordinator, said, according to NBC News.
“I think every government agency ought to rethink what’s appropriate,” he continued. “There are a number of people in surveys, by the way, who say precisely these words, ‘I’m not going to take it, unless it’s required.’”
According to the report:
Health officials said they believe vaccine requirements could be that last push for people who haven’t made getting vaccinated a priority or have been indifferent about needing it.
“Shame on us if we sit here in July and don’t do something to increase the vaccination rates and then we can’t open schools or have a situation where, God forbid, the economy takes another hit because businesses have to shut back down,” said Kathleen Sebelius, who served as health and human services secretary under President Barack Obama.
On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to say whether the Biden administration explicitly encourages employers or state and local governments to mandate the vaccine.
“Is the White House encouraging others to require the vaccine of their employees or their residents?” a reporter asked.
“We know that some employers, hospitals, health systems, colleges, universities, local leaders have chosen to take this step. And we expect others to do so as well,” she said.
“But our role we’re playing from here is continuing to go community by community, person to person, making sure we are meeting people where they are to get the vaccine out,” she continued, effectively sidestepping the question.
“We believe that local communities, entities, organizations are going to make decisions about what they need to do to keep their community safe,” she said, adding she had nothing new to add on vaccine mandates being imposed on federal workers or members of the military.
While the White House said it is not in the business of imposing nationwide vaccine mandates, Psaki affirmed the Biden White House would support local governments choosing to take that step.
As NBC News reported, “much of the power to require vaccinations has rested with state and local governments following a Supreme Court ruling in 1905 that upheld a city board of health law requiring all adults get vaccinated against smallpox.”
The news comes as millions of Americans continue to express vaccine hesitation. Nearly half of those who have not been vaccinated attribute it to concerns over the safety of the vaccines and their expedited development.
The news coincides with continual reports of adverse side effects, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizing a link between the mRNA vaccines and the development of heart inflammation conditions primarily in younger men.
Last week, the FDA added a warning label to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over links to a rare neurological condition, Guillain-Barré Syndrome.