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Commerce Clause

Commerce Clause



Can the United States federal government require everyone between the ages of 16 and 65 to get a flu shot under the Interstate Commerce Clause?  Only address the Commerce Clause issue.  In other words, if Congress requires every person between the ages of 16 and 65 to get a flu shot, is that regulating interstate commerce under the following fact scenario?  I expect you to provide only your legal analysis and not discussion about unrelated issues such as health and medicine or the effectiveness of vaccines.


You should consider the following information in providing your answer.  DO NOT question the accuracy of the information.  Assume all the information below came from a Congressional Report following several days of hearings.


Sustaining Healthy Organizations Together Successfully (“SHOTS”)


The U.S. workforce is primarily comprised of workers between the ages of 16 and 65.  There are exceptions, but these ages are the most common.  Congress proposes requiring that every person between the ages of 16 and 65 living in the U.S. receive a flu shot (or preventative nasal flu vaccine) between September and January of each year.

The annual direct costs of flu illnesses in the U.S. workplace exceed $7 billion dollars a year in sick days and lost productivity.  No profession or workplace is protected against these losses.  Each year, the flu spreads rapidly among health care workers, law enforcement, truckers, teachers, pilots, food service workers and retail employees.  The U.S. economy suffers serious monetary loss each year due to seasonal flu illnesses because many people come to work sick.  These individuals worsen annual flu losses because they spread the flu to co-workers and members of the public.

Beyond sick days and lost productivity, Congress found added costs for hospital visits, doctor’s visits and medications exceed $4.5 billion dollars annually.  Congress determined these costs are preventable and should be eliminated.  Nearly 35 million individuals living in the U.S. contract the flu each year.  Of that number, nearly 1 million will be hospitalized and up to 50,000 will die.

Evidence confirms the flu shot is relatively painless, inexpensive and effective.  Failure to be vaccinated will result in a $250 fine the first year and a $1,000 fine every year thereafter.