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Is the Tide Turning Against Vaccine Mandates?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Joe Biden had every reason to expect pushback when he announced a federal vaccine mandate on private companies with 100+ employees, and he got it. Republican governors and attorneys general promised to fight the mandate in court, and they have. As a result, the mandate was temporarily blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Louisiana last month. However, that didn’t stop the Biden administration from ignoring the freeze and pushing the mandate anyway.

It seems unlikely that the Biden administration honestly believes that the mandate will pass constitutional muster. In fact, Joe Biden opposed vaccine mandates back in January. “No, I don’t think it should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it be mandatory,” Biden said. “But I would do everything in my power — just like I don’t think masks have to be made mandatory nationwide — I will do everything in my power as president of the United States to encourage people to do the right thing. And when they do it, demonstrate that it matters.”

What has happened since then? His failure to get COVID under control has contributed to his approval ratings going underwater, and he’s desperately trying to appear proactive against a virus, even if it means exceeding his authority. And, luckily for him, polls suggested that while the rest of his agenda isn’t popular, his vaccine mandate was.

But that may not be the case for long. According to a new Morning Consult-Politico poll, support for Biden’s vaccine mandate appears to be slipping. The mandate is still supported by a majority of Americans but is down from 58 percent in September to 55 percent in November.

This should worry Biden. Why would support for the mandate decline as vaccination rates have gone up as businesses have already begun to comply with the mandate? Biden has been patting himself on the back that the mandate is already working even though it doesn’t go into effect until January 4.  Nevertheless, support for the mandate seems likely to continue to decline as it gets duked out in court.

VIP: Five Reasons Not to Vaccinate Your Kids From COVID

But Biden’s efforts to get the country vaccinated have other problems. Not only has support for Biden’s vaccine mandate started to slip, but most Americans oppose vaccine mandates for schoolchildren. As of right now, there hasn’t been any discussion about a federal vaccine mandate for students to attend school, although some states, like California, have already announced a mandate for eligible students. According to a new Rasmussen Reports survey, 55 percent of Americans oppose making vaccines mandatory for students. Naturally, the overwhelming majority of Republicans oppose mandatory vaccines for students, as do 61 percent of independents, while 61 percent of Democrats support mandatory vaccines for students.

The question is, will Biden attempt to force kids to get vaccinated? He purchased enough vaccine doses to get all American kids ages 5 to 11 vaccinated even before the FDA approved the vaccine for them. The White House also already has a plan to get all kids vaccinated, even though it is medically unnecessary and potentially risky.

You can bet that red states won’t impose mandatory vaccinations for kids to attend school like California has, and other blue states will. And Biden might just think he has the right to impose such a mandate at the national level. But, since it appears that support for the mandate on adults is declining, attempting to impose mandatory vaccinations for kids, who aren’t affected by COVID the way adults are, would be an incredibly risky move.