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Whether You Like It Or Not, Vaccine Mandates Are Coming

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Unfortunately, as of July, the United States hit a plateau in vaccination rates at a risky stage in the pandemic. People are suffering from pandemic fatigue and acting like we are on the other side of all of this. Meanwhile, the highly transmissible Delta variant is running rampant, and the average number of new U.S. COVID-19 cases had risen to about 84,000 per day as of the end of last month.

We are clearly at a point in this pandemic where we have to get serious about vaccinations. Still, some people don’t seem to understand the importance of herd immunity. It would be nice if the United States could reach herd immunity with just vaccination incentives, but clearly, that is not going to happen. So, whether you like it or not, vaccine mandates are coming.

Currently, a little over half of the country is fully vaccinated, and based on a poll taken by AP-NORC, 45% of Americans who have not been vaccinated say they will definitely not get a vaccine, and 35% say they probably will not. And that’s unfortunate because asking people to social distance and wear masks is obviously not working. And the simplest way to put an end to this pandemic is herd immunity from vaccinations.

Federal, state, and local governments are starting to take steps to make being vaccinated the easier default choice. The Biden administration recently mandated vaccinations for all federal workers and contractors and ordered the military to move toward compulsory vaccinations. The Department of Veterans Affairs also issued vaccine mandates for all frontline health workers at its facilities.

New York City announced the “Key to NYC Pass,” requiring proof of vaccination to access most indoor activities, including gyms, restaurants, and performances, beginning on September 13. Private businesses are also beginning to mandate vaccines, including Uber, Facebook, Google, Netflix, and Delta Air Lines. And nearly 600 colleges and universities will require vaccination.

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Now, before some of you get all up in arms over vaccine mandates, let’s clarify a few things. Vaccine mandates are not new. I am pretty sure the majority of you reading this are vaccinated for measles, mumps, polio, and chicken pox, to name a few. These are all infectious diseases that were once very common but are now rare in the U.S, thanks to vaccines.

And yes, there is legal precedence for mandating the vaccination against COVID-19. States have had the constitutional authority to mandate vaccinations for a long time — i.e., the vaccinations required for your children to attend public schools. And this authority was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1905 and in 1922. A federal judge recently upheld Houston Methodist Hospital’s vaccination requirement stating that the policy broke no federal law. And a federal court ruled that Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is lawful.

Furthermore, the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have ruled that businesses can lawfully require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of coming to the workplace. However, companies are required to grant legitimate medical or religious exemptions. And public schools must offer medical exemptions for those who vaccines could harm. But they do not have to grant religious or conscientious objections.

People are also skeptical that all three vaccines still only have Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). And that’s a valid point. The DOJ and EEOC have specifically stated that employer mandates can occur even under an EUA. However, so far, all state government and military mandates are contingent on the full approval of vaccines. And the Food and Drug Administration recently announced it is expediting full licensure of the Pfizer vaccine, which is likely to occur by September, with the Moderna vaccine not far behind.

Some people have legitimate reasons for not getting vaccinated. But refusing to be vaccinated because you think the government will track you is not a valid reason. So your doctorate from google doesn’t make you qualified to determine if the vaccine is safe or not. And if you still believe the whole pandemic is a hoax … I have no words for you.

Yes, everyone has the right to refuse a vaccine. But this is not just about you. Vaccines are about public health and keeping the population safe, especially those with weak immune systems and children who can’t be vaccinated. Vaccines are designed to protect you and your family, neighbors, classmates, and co-workers. Vaccine mandates aren’t about stripping people of their rights. They are about the common good and mutual solidarity in the midst of a global health crisis.

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