Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (Photo: Lisa Ferdinando)
by Gus Cromwell, Opinion Editor
The debate over mandates for the COVID-19 vaccine has been raging on in recent months with more state and federal rulings being handed down. San Francisco mandated that people must be vaccinated to go to clubs, bars, restaurants and gyms as of Aug. 20, and federal employees now have to be vaccinated by Nov. 22. Yet there are still arguments that these mandates go against personal rights and freedoms. I say that personal choice only goes so far when we’re in the same boat.
The issues around vaccinations and those who refuse to get them have become more pressing with measles coming back after being completely eradicated from the United States in 2000. We have lost the herd immunity we once had that protected us from outside cases. Virtually every case of measles can be traced back to someone who caught it abroad, but it has spread in devastating outbreaks across America due to such low vaccination rates.
Yet, as the virus continues to spread, claims have been made that these mandates are unconstitutional and violate rights. Yet, these kinds of mandates have happened before and are backed by years of precedent. The first mandate law was enacted in 1809 for the smallpox vaccine. The Supreme Court upheld a law enacted by Cambridge City mandating that same vaccine in 1905.
Another unfortunate issue for those arguing that it’s just their choice, and it doesn’t impact anyone is that it really, really does. Saying it’s a personal choice is akin to the following scenario: A cruise ship is filling with water and sinking. Someone decides to dig a hole in their room and breakthrough. Water comes spilling in and everyone gets mad at them. But they say that it’s their room and they should be able to do whatever they want with it.
People still complaining about the vaccines ought to grow up at this point. The Pfizer vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA, and the FDA has recommended boosters for Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and the Moderna vaccine for people 65 and older, as well as those 18 and older at increased risk for COVID infection. Billions of people have received these shots with little to no issue. The evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of receiving the shot.