It's Time For Vaccine Mandates

The pandemic has claimed enough lives. We have a vaccine. It is safe. It is effective. It is time to require it as the price of admission to society.

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A pocket t-shirt with an "I got my Covid-19 vaccine" sticker on it

Photo by Marisol Benitez

Yesterday the FDA granted full, non-emergency-use approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer’s jab - along with several others - has been available to Americans for some time now but US vaccination rates have stalled out. It took the United States about a month to rise from 30% to 40% vaccinated and three months to push that 40% to 50%.

Much of the blame for that loss of initiative falls to a stubborn right-wing anti-vaccination and anti-masking movement. Former President Trump successfully turned basic hygiene into a partisan political issue by refusing to take Coronavirus seriously and since then the MAGA-Antivax movement has metastasized into a full-blown crisis that has much of the American south in its grip. As the Delta Variant burns through the obstinate, anti-science demographic and those unfortunate enough to be under its political sway, the zealots of the movement are doubling down on their fanaticism, going so far as to boo Mr. Trump when he suggested that his supporters should get vaccinated against COVID-19.

While it is folly to suggest that the opposition to vaccination is anything other than ideological, one of the straws at which anti-vaxxers frequently grasp at is the boogeyman of “emergency use authorization.” Essentially, they argue that the COVID vaccinations might be unsafe because the FDA approved them under an emergency use framework rather than its standard approval framework.

To be absolutely clear, this is hogwash.

Nonetheless, many companies, organizations, and other institutions have been hesitant to mandate vaccination so long as the vaccines were operating under an emergency use authorization. That fig-leaf is gone now but the anti-vax objections aren’t going to evaporate just because of an FDA press release.

So now our national, state, and local governments must have the courage to do what’s right. The pandemic has claimed enough lives. We have a vaccine. It is safe. It is effective. It is time to require it as the price of admission to society.

What Can I Do?

First and foremost, if you’re not fully vaccinated and are over the age of 12, go get vaccinated. Most pharmacies have COVID-19 vaccine available on a walk-in basis. Make space for others to get vaccinated too: give an employee PTO, cover a shift, offer someone a ride to the pharmacy. You can use the vaccineLearn more about where you can get vaccinated. keyword on Resistbot to find vaccination sites near you.

You can also write to your government and encourage a tougher stance on vaccine mandates at the state or federal level. Use the stateContact your Governor and/or state legislators keyword to contact your governor and state legislature. Send congressContact your U.S. Senators & U.S. House representative to reach lawmakers in Washington, or presidentContact the President for the White House.

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or text vaccine to 50409