Vaccinations: to Mandate or Not?
President Biden has announced his intention of implementing a Federal Vaccine Mandate for Covid-19.
Is the Government out of line to require the vaccination? Is this mandate any different than what the Government has done in the past?
Public Health Laws Have Always Existed
When we were kids we had to get a tuberculosis (TB) Tine test to get a job if the job was around food, which were most of the jobs we could get. The story of Typhoid Mary was still fresh in the public's mind. Typhoid Mary infected 53 people with typhoid in the cafeteria she worked at, 3 of whom died. Hence everybody had to be tested for TB before they could work around food.
Public Health Laws Always Had Teeth
In Alaska, where I grew up and practiced for decades, people with TB, that didn't take their medicine could be arrested and put in jail, where they would be forced to take their medicine. That was the law. People with TB were not allowed to just go around coughing on everybody and spreading TB. I suppose other states had similar laws.
Recently, a married couple were told that their Covid-19 test results were positive. They
were instructed to cancel their flight home, (scheduled for later that day) and to check into a hotel and self quarantine. But they got on the plane anyway and flew home, and they were arrested when the plane landed. Just as with TB, people still have a legal obligation to protect others. When HIV and AIDS became a thing, some jurisdictions passed laws making it a crime to knowingly expose people to your body fluids if you were HIV positive.
Contact Tracing is Not New
In the past when people were diagnosed with syphilis or gonorrhea, the government
tried to track down their bed partners, to give their partners treatment and stop the spread. Protecting privacy was not a concern, stopping the spread was all that mattered. And the government is also trying to track down the contacts of people that test positive for Covid-19. With STDs like gonorrhea it was a little easier to figure out who had been exposed, but it is the same concept being applied to Covid-19.
The Standard Rules Never Applied to Public Health
With gonorrhea we could also give an extra prescription to the patient who had tested positive. They were told to give this prescription to the person they had exposed, even though the medicine was prescription only and we had never seen the person that would ultimately take the medicine. Typically, doctors can never give a prescription to somebody they have never seen, but public Health has always allowed certain rules to be broken, for the common good.
The States Mandated Blood Tests in the Past
When I got married, a blood test for syphilis was required to get a marriage license. You had to do the VDRL blood test to prove you did not have syphilis before you could legally marry. You could talk about it being My Body, My Choice, all you wanted, but if you wanted to get married, the law required you to allow somebody to stick a needle in your arm, take some of your blood and send it to the lab for testing. States have now dropped this requirement because syphilis is so low, because the mandatory testing worked.
Vaccine Mandates are Not New
Kids have always had to be vaccinated to go to school. That's not new. Military people had to get vaccinations most people had never heard of, including Argentine hemorrhagic fever (Junin virus) vaccine, Chikungunya virus vaccine, Eastern equine encephalitis vaccine, Rift Valley fever vaccine, Tularemia vaccine, etc. Of course it has always been pretty easy to get the religious exemption (for school kids anyway, not sure about the military). The Covid-19 shot also has a religious exemption.
So What is the Real Issue?
Should we just accept the Federal Vaccination Mandate as a legitimate public health policy? Not that much different than previous public health requirements?
Let's look at some specific differences between public health mandates of the past and today's Covid-19 vaccine mandates, and add up some points!
Previous vaccine mandates were State, not Federal mandates. According to the Constitution, some issues are supposed to be left to the States. Health care issues have historically been handled on the State level. The fact that there are 22 State level Covid-19 vaccine mandates shows that a Federal mandate is not needed. Each State can make their own decision based on their unique circumstances. A Federal, one size fits all mandate is Government at it's worst. This point goes to the Anti-Mandate argument.
The death toll is much higher for Covid-19 than for any other infectious illness, certainly during my lifetime. TB was only 10,000 deaths per year in 1960, and by 1970 was down to 5,000. Currently it's about 500 a year. Even when TB was bad, say back in 1945, it was only around 60,000 per year here in the U.S., which would be about 200,000 a year based on our current population. Still that is just a fraction of the death toll of Covid-19. Back in the 60's, measles, which is far more contagious than Covid-19 was only killing about 500 people a year in the U.S. even though it was infecting 3-4 million people a year. Covid-19 is more serious than any other issues we have faced in our lifetime. This is probably the only legitimate argument in favor of a mandate, so here is one point for the Pro-Mandate side.
The whole pandemic has been politicized. Early on China acknowledged Wuhan as the starting point of the virus, but as fingers began pointing to the Virology Lab, not the wet market, and voices began asking for compensation, China changed their story. China then promoted the idea that the virus actually originated in the U.S. and China even threatened to boycott Australian goods after Australia asked for an investigation of the virus's origin. Immediately our mainstream media took this as an opportunity to call Trump racist because he referred to it as the Wuhan Virus. After that Biden and Kamala badmouthed any vaccination produced by the Trump administration. After they got elected they then began promoting the very vaccination they had previously denigrated. They have refused to acknowledge Trump or his administration's role in developing the vaccine and now are issuing mandates. Biden doesn't get to now mandate a vaccine he helped politicize. This point goes to the Anti-Mandate side.
The vaccine mandate is the slippery slope of us losing our freedom. The slippery slope argument has been used for years against any new thing. It presents a good visual, we can all see that slippery slope. But the U.S. Supreme court is as conservative now as it has ever been. Some of the greatest minds of our lifetime sit on the court right now. The vaccine mandate is already headed to their court. I think they are very able to look at this issue and I have confidence they will block the mandate. They will leave it up to the States and employers to sort out. Hence the mandate is just a waste of the Court's time. So this is another point for the Anti-Mandate side which would free up the Court's time to deal with more important issues.
People are quitting their jobs rather than comply with the mandate. Business is having a hard time getting the employees they need. The mandate is making it harder for the employers. Police and Fire departments are understaffed, and it is getting worse with police officers and firefighters quitting rather than get vaccinated. Hospitals are so short-staffed that sick people are being turned away, because they just don't have the staff needed to treat them. Currently 16% of hospital employees in my state are unvaccinated. Now many of these unvaccinated doctors and nurses are quitting due to the mandate, which is just making it even worse. Doctors and nurses are qualified to make their own vaccination decision. The mandate is making it harder for all essential businesses to operate. This point definitely goes to the Anti-Mandate side.
So the final score, in my view, is 4 to 1 in favor of NO FEDERAL MANDATE! Considering all points of view, I think Biden was wrong to impose a Federal Mandate. Wrong on principle and just bad strategy. But I'm not losing any sleep over it because:
I'm already vaccinated.
The Supreme Court will block the Federal Mandate.
Once the Supreme Court blocks the Mandate we can get back to the serious work of educating people and helping them to make the right choice.
Education, NOT Mandates!
If you disagree with this analysis, I would like to hear from you. Use the Comment section and enlighten all of us!