Biden: COVID-19 Vaccine Shouldn’t Be Mandatory

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
December 6, 2020Updated: December 6, 2020

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has said he doesn’t think people should be compelled to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I don’t think it should be mandatory,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Dec. 4.

“I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory, but I would do everything in my power, just like I don’t think masks have to be made mandatory nationwide, I’ll do everything in my power as the President of United States to encourage people to do the right thing.”

Biden has declared victory in the presidential election, but President Donald Trump is contesting results in key battleground states. The Epoch Times is not calling the race at this time.

Two COVID-19 vaccines are pending Food and Drug Administration approval. Trump administration officials believe 20 million Americans will be vaccinated this month.

Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden arrives at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on, Dec. 4, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Biden was asked earlier this year if he would mandate a vaccine if he wins the presidency. He said he would consider it.

“It depends on the state of the nature of the vaccine when it comes out and how it’s being distributed. That would depend on. But I would think that we should be talking about—depending on the continuation of the spread of the virus, we should be thinking about making it mandatory,” he said during a town hall.

Asked how he would enforce a mandate, Biden added: “Well, you couldn’t. That’s the problem, just like can’t enforce—you can’t enforce measles. You can’t come to school until you have a measles shot. You can’t. But you can’t say, everyone has to do this.”

Biden was referring to how some states require children have certain vaccinations to attend schools.

He then said he would go to officials and urge them to mandate masks, suggesting he’d do the same with vaccines.

Some states have the power to mandate vaccines. Virginia’s health commissioner said in August he planned to require people get the vaccine. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, later said he wasn’t planning on mandating the vaccine.

In another case, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, said his state wouldn’t mandate getting vaccinated.

Trump hasn’t said whether he supports mandatory vaccination. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Epoch Times Photo
A subject receives a shot in the first-stage clinical trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, Wash., on March 16, 2020. (Ted S. Warren/AP Photo)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a government infectious diseases expert, said in August that he wouldn’t support a nationwide mandate.

“No, definitely not. You don’t want to mandate and try and force anyone to take the vaccine. We’ve never done that. You can mandate for certain groups of people, like health workers, but for the general population you can’t,” he said.

“Here at my own hospital, at the NIH, we get influenza vaccines, and if you refuse, with no good reason other than you just don’t want to take it, then we don’t allow you to take your patients on the wards during the influenza season. So that is a mandate. But we don’t want to be mandating from the federal government to the general public. It would be unenforceable and not appropriate.”

An advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week that the first COVID-19 vaccines should go to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said he supports the recommendations and accepted them.

Redfield was asked during a virtual forum this month whether he foresees airlines, schools, or employers requiring proof of vaccination.

“It will be a decision I think each industry will make, but I do think there are certain industries where I think it would be important to protect their workforce and some other industries where it may be important to make sure that they protect their customers and consumers,” he said.

“So I think as these vaccines get deployed, groups will wrestle with that. But I won’t be surprised if a number of occupations or situations make vaccination against COVID a requirement.”