Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Does the CDC have the right to force people to get vaccine?

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March 27, 2015 1:22PM

Answer 1:

No. You have the right to decide whether you want a vaccine or not, but doing what the CDC wants is definitely the wise thing to do. This is primarilly a legal and ethical issue. The CDC is a government agency charged with disease prevention and research; it is not an enforcement or police agency. An important tennant of US culture is the freedom of the individual. The government is not generally permitted to force an individual to do things when it is merely for the good of that one person. So, except in most eggregious situations, extremely resistant tuberculosis is one example, competant adults cannot be forced to accept a vaccination. Answer 2:

The US Supreme Court has ruled that you cannot be forced to take a vaccination - but you can be restricted from activities without the vaccination (which is a way to force the vaccination by another means). For instance, if you refuse a vaccination you can be refused participation in any public program (even if that is a force program like attending public school - so you will be jailed for not attending school, even though they refuse to let you attend because you refuse a vaccination. IE: Forced vaccinations by any other name). A provision in the Patriot Act, and follow up acts, allows for the government to declare a national medical emergency and force a vaccination on anyone, or if you refuse, they can jail you until the emergency is passed or you take the vaccination; many states have state laws that are the same.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is an arm of the US Public Health Service which is overseen by the Surgeon General of the US (a cabinet level position). Under certain limited government-declared health/disease emergencies the Public Heealth Service (in order prevent or reduce the spread of communicable diseases throughout the general population) is empowered to require individuals to become treated or immunized. Under 'normal' situations the Public Health Service "recommends" that certain steps be taken in order to prevent the spread of illness and disease but they do no have the power of law, UNLESS - Congress or State governments adapt these recommendations and give them the force of law (e.g.: the requirement that children entering school must have immunizations against certain communicable diseases).