How Congress Can Help Raise Vaccine Rates

16 Pages Posted: 15 May 2020 Last revised: 16 Jun 2020

See all articles by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

UC Law, San Francisco

Y. Tony Yang

George Washington University

Date Written: April 21, 2020


2019 has seen an unusually high number of measles cases, and other preventable diseases outbreaks, at least in part linked to vaccines refusal. States are considering legislative responses. This article examines what role can the federal government fill in increasing vaccines rates. The article suggests that the federal government has an important role to fill in funding research, coordination, and local efforts. It also suggests that a federal school mandate is likely not the solution: first, such mandate can run into plausible constitutional challenges, and second, there are policy arguments against it, including the unfairness of imposing a mandate before solving access problems throughout the country, the risk of a federal mandate ended up weaker or stronger than the state, and the risk that a conditional mandate will lead to states losing funding needed to prevent outbreak, ending with the ironic result of more outbreaks as a result of such a law.

Keywords: Vaccines, public health law, Congress, Federalism

JEL Classification: K32, K30, I18, I14

Suggested Citation

Reiss, Dorit Rubinstein and Yang, Y. Tony, How Congress Can Help Raise Vaccine Rates (April 21, 2020). Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 96, 2020, UC Hastings Research Paper No. 389, Available at SSRN:

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss (Contact Author)

UC Law, San Francisco ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States
415-5654844 (Phone)
415-5654865 (Fax)

Y. Tony Yang

George Washington University ( email )

1919 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20006
United States

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