Local municipalities can make COVID-19 vaccine mandatory


HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Operation Warp Speed plans to have a vaccine in the next few months. However, many are hesitant to get the vaccine once it is made available.

Here in the Rio Grande Valley 92 percent of its population is Hispanic, the hardest-hit community in this pandemic.

In just 30 days, the death count in Hidalgo and Cameron County went from 105 to 882.

Dr. Lisa Treviño, Vice President at DHR Health Institute for Research and Development said what we need now is a vaccine.

“When that vaccine becomes approved and is out, I highly encourage for our patients and our community to consider receiving the vaccine,” said Dr. Treviño.

According to Dr. Treviño, the Hispanic population already has the odds against them.

“I think it is critical for our patient population that we do see indexing of obesity, type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease which are at a higher risk of having a more severe type of outcome,” said Dr. Treviño.  

Even with those odds, the Hispanic population in the Rio Grande Valley are hesitant to get the vaccine.

Question: Should people worry about the process being so fast?

Answer: “I think it is a valid point from our community. There is fear, there is risk in any product that we take into our bodies, however, we have to trust the scientific community. Science is refuted by better science so we are bringing on new science, better science, faster science, more effective science, so I think right now the scientist that we have in and around our country working together these are experts and we are not going to cut any corners to just get something on the market. We are first going to make sure it is safe, and it is effective before it gets approved,” said Dr. Treviño.

While people might think they have a choice in getting the COVID-19 Vaccine, it might not be the case.

Eric Flores, a Mission-based attorney said in order to maintain public health and safety, local government can make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory.

“The 10th amendment plays a big role here, that giving the states and local municipalities that power right because at the state level they will see one thing, however like you mentioned, McAllen or Pharr where they are actually on the frontline of COVID-19, they have that ability to govern themselves and say ‘hey we are in a public health crisis and everyone needs to get a vaccine, and if you don’t, you are going to be subjected to some sort of fine,’” said Flores.  

The nation has dealt with a public health crisis in the past and have made vaccines mandatory.

“The Supreme Court held that under the 10th amendment, where the states derive their power that very specifically when it comes to a health crisis, they do have that ability to impose those types of regulations which do and deprive some civil liberties for the greater good,” said Flores.

In 1905, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Massachusetts in the Jacobson v. Massachusetts case requiring all those who lived in Cambridge to get a smallpox vaccine or get fined.

“Back then it was a fine and I think the Supreme Court, one of the distinguishment’s that they made was that it is not a forced vaccine right it’s a compulsory vaccine that is mandatory. They are not necessarily going to physically force you,” said Flores.

The Jacobson v. Massachusetts Supreme Court case is over 100 years old, but Flores said the courts continue to rely on the reasoning of the case.

“I think simply stating ‘I don’t believe in vaccinations, I don’t want to get it, I never received one before’ I don’t think that will necessarily equate to an exemption under these ordinances or state laws that we could see coming in the future,” said Flores.  

The approval of a vaccine goes in stages: exploratory, pre-clinical and clinical development.

Currently, many pharmaceutical companies are in the clinical development phase. Thousands of humans have already received the vaccine and now the nation waits for the approval.

“The approval process for any drug or vaccine can be a couple of years. You have to get out of those phases. You have to be approved to go onto the next phase. But right now, because it is so critical and because we need to really find something and go through the proper approval, it is being expedited quickly by the FDA,” said Dr. Treviño.

Dr. Treviño added COVID-19 has not only destroyed the lives of those living here in the Valley but has left the world in a standstill until a cure is found.

According to Dr. Treviño, we need to continue to social distance, wear masks and wash our hands.

When the vaccine is out, Flores said to not be surprised if the vaccine is mandatory before heading back to school or work.

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