VACCINATION BY MANDATE

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: La Red Hispana

Nobody likes to do something against their will. Persuasion is always more desirable than obligation.

History confirms, with innumerable examples, that the fight against imposition has unleashed heroic acts of vindication to the value of freedom. But the reality is that the social pact, which serves as a glue to modern societies, is also full of examples in which it is valid and legitimate to limit individual freedoms, in the name of the common good.

In fact, it is the laws themselves that define the territory of individual freedoms. In 49 of the 50 states in the country it is a misdemeanor not to wear a seat belt for the driver or crew of a motor vehicle. In 34 of those states, the police can arrest you if you are not wearing it.

One more example: all 50 states in the country have legislation in place that requires vaccination for their students, although there are certain exceptions for medical or religious reasons in 44 states in the country, including the District of Columbia. Although the states of the country have the right to define their own vaccination policies, many have decided to align their guidelines with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week granted final approval of the COVID vaccine produced by Pfizer, which should reassure the roughly 30 million undecided Americans who were waiting for such scientific and administrative action to finally get vaccinated.

But the FDA’s decision, which at the moment only applies to people 16 or older, also paved the legal path for COVID vaccination to be required by the federal government, private sector companies, non-profit organizations, universities and many other institutions.

The Pentagon, with its 1.4 million active-duty soldiers, immediately made the decision to require COVID vaccination for all soldiers. Other companies such as United Airlines, JP Morgan, Amazon, Facebook and Google have started to take steps in the same direction. Thousands more companies are expected to make a similar decision. In some cases, unvaccinated employees will need to undergo regular diagnostic testing.

In my opinion, the requirement for vaccination against COVID is necessary if we take into account official statistics in the sense that most of the people who are hospitalized with severe cases of COVID are unvaccinated, many of them due to the contagious delta variant. Although people who are fully vaccinated have also tested positive for COVID, those cases are less likely to result in hospitalization or death.

Seat belts do not save all lives in traffic accidents. But I have not heard any credible voice argue that, because of that fact, they should disappear from the face of the planet. COVID vaccines are not perfect, but there is strong evidence that they work and save lives. I invite you to search for the data with sources you trust.

The unvaccinated put themselves at personal risk, but are also putting their families, healthcare providers and their communities at risk. Requiring the application of vaccines against COVID is an act of collective responsibility.

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