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Is the state-worker vaccine mandate legal and does it violate the Nuremberg Code?

OLYMPIA, Wash., September 7, 2021 — Immediately following Gov. Inslee’s press conference on August 18, wherein he issued a vaccine mandate for state employees, the Lynnwood Times reached out to his office, inquiring whether a governor has the authority to mandate a vaccine that isn’t FDA approved. The Executive Director of Communications for the Governor’s Office responded by assuring the Lynnwood Times that “the source of the Governor’s authority to mandate vaccines is found in his emergency powers, and specifically, his broad prohibitory powers during declared states of emergency.”

Additionally, the Executive Director stated that “for our updated orders, the authority will be the same,” and specifically referred to the governor’s powers during a state of emergency as detailed in Gov. Inslee specifically cites these emergency powers in his proclamation on page four in the “NOW, THEREFORE” section. 

The Legalities of the Vaccine Mandate

vaccine mandate
Gov. Jay Inslee signs legislation to help with the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including $200 million for emergency response. The bill signings was held with limited attendance while the public watched live video and media asked questions via teleconference. (Office of the Governor Photo)

Gov. Inslee’s legal authority to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine was questioned shortly after the press release, as none of the vaccines had received FDA approval at the time. The move seemed to contradict an April 2021 memo released by Liberty Counsel, a national nonprofit litigation public policy organization, which stated that current COVID vaccines cannot be mandated nor required as a condition of employment because of its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) categorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

vaccine mandate
Dr. Janet Woodcock, M.D.

However, on August 23, just a few days after Gov. Inslee’s press conference, the FDA approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. In the official release, the Acting FDA Commissioner, Janet Woodcock, M.D., said, “The FDA’s approval of [the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19] vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product.”

FDA Press Officer Abby Capobianco made it clear to the Lynnwood Times that “the FDA does not mandate vaccinations. Whether a state, local government or employer, for example, may require or mandate COVID-19 vaccination is a matter of state or other applicable law.” Capobianco also reiterated how, while Pfizer’s emergency authorization is in effect for children between the ages of 12 and 15, the FDA approval only applies to citizens who are 16 years of age or older.

The Nuremberg Code

A black-and-white wartime photo of a court room with people seated and soldiers around.
The Nuremberg trials were held in 1945 and 1946 in the aftermath of WWII.  Source: U.S. National Archives

Before the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, a popular debate surrounding vaccine mandates was whether or not they were a violation of the Nuremberg Code. Resulting from the aftermath of World War II, the Nuremberg Code is essentially a code of ethics regarding medical experimentation. But, as one vaccine has FDA approval, the “medical experimentation” argument holds less water. 

The first clause of the code states that “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential” in medical experiments. The clause continues by saying that any person involved must have a legal capacity to give consent “without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion.” Some argue that Gov. Inslee’s making vaccination a condition of employment qualifies as a form of force, constraint, or coercion and thereby violates the Nuremberg Code.

Similar sentiments regarding vaccine mandates have circulated enough to make national news. Just last month, USA Today published an article titled, “Fact check: COVID-19 vaccine mandates don’t violate Nuremberg Code.” After citing headlines shared on social media suggesting that vaccine mandates violate the code and are “punishable by death,” the article labels the claims as “not accurate.”

According to USA Today, the primary reason COVID-19 vaccine mandates are not in violation of the code is that the vaccines are not experimental. As the article was published on August 10, 2021, thirteen days before the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, it acknowledges that the vaccines were only authorized for emergency use. However, to receive the Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, the vaccines still had to undergo testing and approval.

FDA Press Officer Abby Capobianco corroborated this claim. “Although an authorization is not an FDA approval, the FDA conducted a thorough scientific evaluation of each of the authorized vaccines and can assure the public and medical community that the vaccines meet FDA’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality,” she says.  

Alexis Paton
Dr. Alexis Paton

Independent fact-checkers at, who also reported on the matter, were able to speak with Dr. Alexis Paton, a lecturer in social epidemiology and the sociology of health at Aston University, Birmingham. According to Dr. Paton, the Nuremberg Code is “very specifically about experimentation.”

“The Nuremberg Code is about the active experimentation on humans, for the most part during some sort of clinical trial of some description,” she told Full Fact. “So when we talk about Pfizer or AstraZeneca [vaccines], we’re out of the auspices of the Nuremberg Code because this is a product that has been trialled [sic], with appropriate ethics in place, and has been approved and is now in production and being used globally.”

7 Responses

  1. Here are three story ideas for you.
    1. ) Is there any inventory of the approved Comirnaty vaccine located in the US?
    2.) What are the usual processes, steps, procedures, committee meetings, public comment periods, testimonies given, etc., in the usual vaccine approval process? And how many of those procedures/processes were skipped or shortcutted in the approval process for Comirnaty.
    3.) What are the legal option differences between the EUA vaccines vs. the “approved”Comirnaty vaccine if someone were to die or be seriously injured if they want to sue for financial relief?

  2. I don’t care what kind of emergency power was given to the dictator, I don’t think forcing people to take a shot should be within he’s realm of power.

  3. The vaccine was not approved with full authorization they did the name change and for kids from 12 to 16 as a EUA so yes it will and dose brake the Nurnberg code and the constitutions no matter the powers that he says that he has we thr people have all political power and we can take their power any time

  4. Has anyone seen the president or pelosi take the shot this is strictly to kill us off so the Anti Christ can take over he has to kill hundreds in order to take over so it’s mainly aimed at us chris train, patriots 50 and over and lack of drs and nurses cause evil supports evil like the bible says the last days will be like

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