Last Thursday, US President Joe Biden signed a decree making coronavirus vaccination mandatory for about 100 million Americans.
After months of trying to convince doubters to get vaccinated using various bonuses, the American president changed his rhetoric and strategy:
“We were patient, but our patience has reached its limits.”
Speaking last Thursday, Biden denounced the “minority” of Americans who, with the support of the “minority of politicians”, do not allow the United States to “turn the page” of the pandemic by refusing to vaccinate. He declared:
“Nearly 80 million Americans have yet to be vaccinated. Elected officials are working hard to undermine the fight against the pandemic. Compulsory vaccination of categories of workers to defeat those who hinder vaccination is a public health concern. These 80 million represent 25% of the population: it can cause a lot of damage, and it really is. “
Biden’s decree on the mandatory vaccination of 2/3 of Americans caused a violent reaction from the Republicans in the House of Representatives: “This is very similar to a dictatorship.” Some have announced their intention to file lawsuits against the president. To which he reacted succinctly: “Let them try.”
An avalanche of angry, “freedom” comments reached their climax a few hours after Biden’s speech:
“According to the latest news, we live in a free country,” – Former President Donald Trump
“See you in court,” – Christy Noem, Governor of South Dakota.
“The GOP will sue this government to protect Americans and their freedoms,” GOP President Rona McDaniel
Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott called the president’s decision “an attack on private companies”. He was quick to announce that he had already signed a decree “protecting the right of Texans to get vaccinated against Covid.”
Many Republicans are in favor of vaccinations, but against mandatory vaccinations. Some of them are skeptical about vaccines. The Democrat President’s unusually harsh tone added fuel to the angry reaction. Mike Pence, a former vice president of the Trump administration, said Friday:
“Americans don’t expect their elected officials to talk to them this way.”
To date, the United States has recorded more than 660,000 deaths from COVID-19, 41 million cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Recently, the number of hospitalizations has increased.
Faced with a significant deterioration in the epidemiological situation due to the more infectious Delta strain, amid the reluctance of some citizens to vaccinate, Biden on Thursday signed a decree requiring federal officials to conduct public procurement for vaccinations in the near future, without the alternative of undergoing regular testing. This regulation applies to both nursing home staff and federal government schools.
The decree bypasses the legislature and state governments in health matters, and also extends to the private sector. Employees of companies with more than 100 employees must now be vaccinated or tested weekly.
Vaccines are already mandatory in the US for schoolchildren. Supporters of the president cite the verdict and rulings of the Supreme Court, including a 1905 ruling against an American who refused to be vaccinated against smallpox. But this decision concerned the powers of the state, not the federal one. The question now is whether the White House can impose this obligation by decree. The legal battle is expected to be fierce.
Georgetown University law professor Lawrence Gostin notes on Twitter that the president “has full legal authority” to set workplace safety rules. The lobby of the Business Roundtable, which features major American companies, “welcomed” Joe Biden’s anti-virus policies. The president himself, when asked about Republican threats to sue, replied:
“Let them try. I am especially disappointed that some Republican governors are so reckless about child health. We should not be condemned to such political debate. “