Can You Be Required To Take A COVID-19 Vaccine?

All adults should be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, 2021, meaning the United States could reach herd immunity by Independence Day. Herd immunity is when enough people are vaccinated and immune to the virus, and it will stop spreading so quickly and easily throughout the country and world. Experts estimate that about 70 to 90 percent of the United States population will need to be fully vaccinated for that to happen. It's hard to know the exact percentage of people who need to get vaccinated because that number is different for every contagion (via CBS News and Healthline). 

About 30 percent of Americans don't want to get the COVID vaccine, but they might not have a choice. Most states have school vaccine mandates that started 150 years ago — from daycare to college — for certain vaccinations, usually the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine or MMR, chickenpox, meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or Tdap, and polio vaccines. Students without proof of these vaccinations are not allowed to attend school, although there are exceptions allowed in some cases (via CNBC). 

So, can you be required to take the COVID-19 vaccine? The answer is complicated right now, but it could possibly be "yes." Getting vaccinated could be a requirement from schools, businesses, specific venues, employers, and the government. 

Who can require you to get a COVID-19 vaccination

Some employers, especially those with a lot of customers going in and out or face-to-face interactions like salons, bars, and restaurants, could start offering incentives to employees for getting their COVID-19 vaccination, and employers can even require employees to get vaccinated under a health and safety rule. 

Cities, states, and the federal government have the power to require residents to get their COVID vaccines, and that could start happening soon. Travel restrictions could also be applied to those who aren't inoculated yet. You can be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to have the ability to travel in and out of the United States. 

However, a Pew Research Center poll shows that 77 percent of Americans either plan to get vaccinated or already have. Herd immunity could come as early as the end of summer 2021, and that means forcing the public to get vaccinations may not be necessary. Schools will likely require their students and staff to be vaccinated as they have done in the past with other vaccinations, but daycares through high schools will have to wait for a vaccine to be approved for kids under 16 (via Pew Research Center).