Religious Exemptions of Vaccine Mandates: A Short Analysis of Legal and Political Challenges of American Society amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
Increasing vaccine coverage has been considered a critical measure to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. While the federal government launched a vaccination program shortly after its emergency use authorization of vaccines, the vaccine coverage of the United States is 63% that only ranks 62th around the world by mid-January, 2022. This relatively low coverage is commonly attributed to the anti-vaccine movements, and anti-intellectualism in the U.S. history, and religious exemption of vaccine mandates recognized by most state and federal laws. From a perspective of public health law and social research, this article analyzes how religious exemption challenges U.S. legal system and society (especially amidst this pandemic), as well as to explores a more sophisticated balance between public health needs and human rights protections.