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Mandatory vaccines are a means to an end

Mandatory vaccines are a means to an end

Mandatory vaccines are a means to an end
September 24
13:00 2021

At the time of writing, over 54.8 percent of the U.S. population has received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine while 63.9 percent have received at least one dose. While these numbers are outwardly optimistic, the spread of variants such as delta, lambda and mu proves that we still have a lot of work to do to eradicate this virus completely. On Sept. 9, President Joe Biden turned heads by ordering businesses with over 100 workers must either receive the vaccine or provide proof to employers that they are testing negative on a weekly basis. 

“Mandatory vaccines” are two words that give off a dangerous connotation. First off, is it even legal for the president to mandate vaccines for non-federal workers? The president can enforce vaccinations on companies to maintain safe workplaces since the government has the constitutional power to undertake emergency standards through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. While this might sound scary, the government has already exercised this right in the past. Public schools have required school children to be vaccinated for a variety of diseases since 1850 to prevent or control epidemics.

If mandatory vaccinations aren’t a new issue, why does it seem that everybody and their mother are freaking out about them today? With the rapid growth of social media, there has been a lot of room for misinformation. Conspiracy theories about the mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine thrive on social media platforms like Reddit, with one subreddit having over 1.5 million members.

In the world of medicine, the vaccine is in its infancy and I was admittedly very skeptical of it. One tends to have reservations about having something injected in them, feeling like something of a lab rat. However, I saw it as almost a patriotic duty to be fully vaccinated. I wanted to ensure the safety of my family and others around me by making sure that I was covered. Not that this vaccination is fail-proof, but it felt like I was doing my part if I was vaccinated while wearing a mask. 

The law is supposed to be an objective measure while the sense of morality is a subjective measure to society. A counterargument made by some in objecting to a mandate is found in section 1 of the 14th amendment, which says that no state should enforce any law that will abridge the privileges or immunities of American-born or naturalized.

Pastor Henning Jacobson brought this argument to a Massachusetts state court after he was subjected to pay $5 after receiving a smallpox vaccine. He and his son were injured by previous vaccines and he rejected the vaccination along with the fine, citing it was in violation of the Massachusetts and federal constitution. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and other state courts rejected his argument. The Supreme Court also rejected his claims in 1905, citing that states had the power to regulate for the protection of public health.

While I understand the concern behind the mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine, it cannot be stressed how unusual the circumstances are at the moment. It’s imperative for healthcare workers to get fully vaccinated because they are the ones on the frontline fighting this pandemic. Hospital workers like nurses and doctors see a revolving door of patients who have the virus, so they must ensure the safety of other patients and their family members by making sure they have done their part. 

I do believe that in the end, mandatory vaccines are a step we will have to take to eliminate or control this pandemic for all the reasons stated above. Mandatory vaccines aren’t a new occurrence and the supreme court ruled that states have the power to enforce mandatory vaccination. I’m not saying that this step will completely eradicate COVID-19, but progress will remain stagnant unless we try something different. 

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Adrian Maldanado

Adrian Maldanado

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