COVID Vaccine: States are starting to require proof of COVID vaccines for their state employees. Are vaccine mandates warranted? Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: COVID Vaccine
On Monday, we wrote about mask mandates, which are now in place in a growing number of cities across the United States. In fact, the CDC recommended Tuesday that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high COVID-19 transmission rates. Today, we’re highlighting a somewhat related topic that is ripe for discussion at kitchen tables from California to the New York island: vaccine mandates. Speaking of the New York island, as noted in the newsletter yesterday, New York City will require all of its municipal workers — including teachers and police officers — to get coronavirus vaccines by mid-September or face weekly COVID-19 testing. On the West Coast, California is also requiring proof of COVID vaccination for state employees. There’s even a city that is requiring employees who go maskless to wear stickers that prove they are fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first major federal agency to require vaccines for health care workers. This debate is not only happening inside our borders. Overseas, an increasing number of European governments including those in France, Ireland, and Italy are planning to prevent unvaccinated people from attending bars and restaurants this summer. With that said, if you do find yourself debating this issue with friends, family, or colleagues, it’s helpful to know what both sides are saying — as we discuss here today. Remember: we don’t present both sides to pit people against one another, but rather to provide perspective. If you agree with vaccine mandates, do your best to consider the information presented below in order to empathize with someone who may disagree with the proposal, and vice-versa. It’s not an easy topic to tackle. Rigid, black-and-white ideologies and beliefs don’t make solving the problem any easier. With that said, let’s dive in.
On The Left
Left-leaning commentators generally favor COVID-19 vaccine mandates. They think the private sector should lead the charge and point to the fact that many places like hospitals and schools already require vaccines for the flu, measles, mumps, and rubella. One author notes how vaccine mandates are part of our national history: George Washington pushed for them during the Revolutionary War.
“Private companies must require vaccines for workers. It’s the only way to get past COVID.” Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Matthew Guido and Amaya Diana, USA Today Opinion: “The private sector needs to step up and mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their workers. … The Biden administration cannot and will not introduce a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The federal government’s legal authority to issue a vaccine mandate is unclear. … The private sector needs to fill the void. Private employers are in a better position to institute mandates and have precedent to do so. Most health care facilities, many universities, and some employers already require vaccines for the flu; measles, mumps, and rubella; HPV and/or meningococcal disease. … The mandates are legal. … The mandates are ethical … And the mandates are effective. … Mandates are the best way to reach people who are apathetic about vaccines, possibly because they don’t view COVID-19 as a real threat, and get them vaccinated. … The message should be clear: Mandates spearheaded and executed by the private sector are our most crucial tool for thwarting delta surges.”
“Stop pleading with anti-vaxxers and start mandating vaccinations” Max Boot, The Washington Post: “It’s time to get serious about coronavirus vaccinations. Stop pleading and start mandating. … Over 99 percent of COVID-19 deaths in June were among the unvaccinated. … There is vaccine hesitancy among many different sectors of the population, including reckless youths, granola liberals who believe in alternative medicines, and African Americans who distrust the health-care system [and] Republicans who are being fed a steady diet of anti-vaxxer propaganda by Fox ‘News’ Channel. … This is madness. Stop making reasonable appeals to those who will not listen to reason. … It’s a waste of time. Start mandating that anyone who wants to travel on an airplane, train or bus, attend a concert or movie, eat at a restaurant, shop at a store, work in an office, or visit any other indoor space show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test. … Vaccine mandates will prove controversial, to put it mildly, but, like seat belt laws, drunken driving laws, and motorcycle helmet laws, they will save lives. We should not grant an unreasonable minority the power to endanger public health.”
“Vaccine Mandates Are Coming. Good.” Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times: “Some even view vaccine mandates as un-American, but they are part of our foundational fabric. … Gen. George Washington recognized that mandated mass inoculation was necessary to win the [Revolutionary] war, though, and told Congress so in 1777. Although he met resistance, his mandate worked. … When the United States was fighting smallpox long ago, it took mandates to get enough people vaccinated. To eradicate polio, the same was true. Nearly all major infectious diseases in the country — measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, diphtheria, and more — have been managed through vaccine mandates by schools. … When vaccination is the default, most people will get vaccinated. Mandates still aren’t popular; few public health measures are. But they work.”
On The Right
Right-leaning commentators generally support vaccination efforts. However, they’re less willing to endorse full-scale mandates. They do believe vaccination is the best way to beat COVID-19, but, as one author notes, are curious why the FDA hasn’t fully approved the shots yet.
“A Covid Vaccine Crossroads” Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal: “Vaccines are the great success of the pandemic. Americans should be celebrating these breakthrough innovations that US industry produced at breakneck speed. But instead even vaccines are becoming another front in the culture war. … Yet the question now is what to do about the third of Americans who haven’t been vaccinated, especially as the Delta variant spreads. … One question is how much coercion to apply to the vaccine hesitant. In a free society, this should be as little as possible. Rather than mandate vaccines, employers perhaps could require the unvaccinated to get tested regularly. … GOP politicians are oddly now talking like libertarians on mandates while espousing state power to block private actors from enforcing their own standards for ensuring a safe workplace and reassuring employees. … It won’t help the GOP politically to sound like anti-vaxxers, especially with the suburban women they will need next year to take back Congress. You can oppose state coercion but still favor the life-saving benefits of mass COVID vaccination.”
“Forget Mask Mandates. Vaccines Are the Only Answer for Fighting COVID-19.” Bethany Mandel, New York Times: “It’s not often that I say this as a conservative, but Mayor Bill de Blasio is absolutely correct to reject calls for a renewed indoor mask mandate and to refuse to consider renewed lockdowns in New York City in light of the emergence of the Delta variant. … This is not spring 2020. … We know what works in our battle against COVID: vaccines. We tried lockdowns, we tried mask mandates, but numbers only started to drop to endemic levels in some areas when vaccination became mainstream. We should never again agree to indefinite emergency powers without a clear and attainable goal for their removal. The reality is one many are unwilling to face: COVID is here to stay, variants will come and go, and life must go on. Instead of mandating more destructive lockdowns and masking, the government’s role moving forward should be incentivizing the only thing that has been proven to ensure a return to true normalcy: vaccines.”
“The Problem with the Early Vaccine Mandates” Jim Geraghty, National Review: “If cities, federal agencies, universities, and the Pentagon are going to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for all employees, shouldn’t the vaccines have full FDA approval by now? And are we comfortable with employers’ requiring employees to take a vaccine that hasn’t been given the final stamp of approval from the FDA? … Yes, we don’t want anyone to cut any corners in the standard procedure for reviewing all of the collected medical data. But almost nothing about this process has been standard; the usual review process is designed to examine all of this data before the vaccines go in the arms of the majority of the population. … By the time the FDA formally approves the application, the pandemic will hopefully be effectively over in the US.”
Flag This: COVID Vaccine
Flag Poll: According to an Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index poll published earlier this month, “About half of Americans support requiring vaccination to dine indoors (47%), go to a salon (49%), or to return to places of employment (52%).” As indicated above, “Democrats and Republicans are far apart on these. Three quarters (76%) of Democrats support showing vaccine status to return to the workplace compared to less than a third (29%) of Republicans.”
Flag This: Is there a middle ground on mandates? In terms of public opinion, that’s a tough question to answer. From a legal point of view, however, both sides (left, right) seem to agree that vaccine requirements are likely to survive court challenges as long as they allow exceptions for religious or medical reasons. This includes those at colleges and universities.
Flag Poll: COVID Vaccine
Do you support vaccine mandates? Why or why not? Comment below to share your thoughts. Bonus points if you can articulate why you empathize with an opposing perspective.