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Bring on the Vaccine Mandate!

Bring on the Vaccine Mandate!

Bring on the Vaccine Mandate!

Over the past few weeks, Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have started to rise yet again in the United States. That looks set to continue, thanks to the Delta variant, which is more transmissible than other variants, and possibly more lethal, too.

Let’s cut to the chase: Unlike before, this is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The people being hospitalized and dying are those who haven’t gotten their jabs. These Americans are the reason we’re seeing spikes in states like Mississippi (about 34% vaccinated) while those like Massachusetts (more than 63% vaccinated) aren’t facing the same suffering.

So, here’s my (surely unpopular) opinion: It’s time for the federal government to mandate vaccines. Unless you have a legitimate medical reason to avoid them, you should have to be vaccinated.

Half measures haven’t worked. We’ve tried giving away free stuff, putting famous faces on TV to advertise. New York City has offered free subway passes, which are normally expensive for many people.

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But despite having all the vaccine doses one could hope for, only about 50% of Americans are vaccinated. Canada, whose vaccine program initially lagged, passed us. So has the United Kingdom. The European Union will soon as well, even though the United States has produced and distributed so many of the vaccines they’re using. All the while, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America are crying out for the doses we can't convince some Americans to take.

That's the root of the problem: Americans don’t trust each other or the government enough to get jabbed. Political division, disinformation, and stupidity made a large segment of Americans unwilling to listen to facts, whether they’re coming from Dr. Anthony Fauci or (now pro-vaccine) Republican House leader Steve Scalise or conservative TV star Sean Hannity.

Instead, Americans find conspiracies online and on television. Some believe the vaccine will implant a microchip into your body, or that it causes infertility (it doesn't do either). Some suggest the vaccine itself might be harmful while ignoring the hundreds of thousands of Americans killed by Covid-19. And dishonest social media or television figures, recognizing the potential to win votes and/or pocket cash, have made themselves rich and famous (and now vaccinated!) by pushing fake news about vaccines. It’s also because social media companies haven’t done enough to take down false information because it drives clicks.

This is not an environment in which enough people will change their minds, because to accept the science now is to admit that you and your favorite information sources have been wrong all along.

We’ve lost 600,000 Americans to this disease, and we’re going to lose more. Clearly, the time for convincing people is over. We’re so close to the finish line in the fight against Covid-19, and I believe a little bit of coercion will get us there.

I almost never support taking away people’s liberties. I support gun rights; free speech; gay marriage, marijuana legalization, you name it. I love freedom. But here and now, we're talking about saving huge numbers of American lives.

Not only will vaccine mandates save lives, but they'll also get our economy back on track. They will put people back to work. If too many people remain unvaccinated, the economy will continuously reopen and close as cases spike. That might be fine for the privileged minority that can work from home, but service workers and others who have to show up in the workplace to make a living—many of them among the unvaccinated—will lose cash they desperately need.

I'm not saying we should send anti-vaxxers to jail. Make them pay a fine. Just as Australia levies a $55 (AUD) penalty against those who don’t vote in elections without a valid reason, so too should the US fine those who do not get vaccinated despite having no reason not to.

Is this a restriction of liberty? Yes it is. But so is forcing motorists to carry a driver’s license and fining those who refuse to buckle up. So is telling an 18-year-old soldier he’s not old enough to drink a beer.

After 9/11, we took away a whole host of other liberties. You can’t get on a plane without taking off your shoes or allowing a TSA agent to look at you naked. (Through an x-ray machine, but still!) How about the PATRIOT Act? Thanks to that, the government can read your bank and credit card reports in the name of national security. We did all that to make sure 9/11 didn't happen again—to save a few thousand American lives from terrorism.

A vaccine mandate will save tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of lives. It makes more sense than a lot of the limits we’ve already imposed and is certainly more important to the nation at large. It's hardly a step toward authoritarianism.

I get why people are skittish, and why nobody wants to demand vaccine mandates. But saving that many lives is worth a small compromise of “liberty.”

And as a patriotic American, I believe it’s my duty to give a damn what happens to other Americans—even those who don’t give a damn about me.

That it’s. Now, what do you think? You can really let me have it by commenting below; I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

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