After resisting comprehensive vaccine mandates for months, President Biden announced the new vaccine mandate on Thursday that affects about 100 million Americans, nearly two-thirds of the American workforce. The new rules come as the Delta variant plays havoc across the country, and a rise in hospitalizations and deaths are recorded, particularly in areas where vaccination rates remain low.
Negative Response received to the President’s Plan
This new 6 step plan evoked unanimous opposition from Republican governors across the South, Midwest, and West. In recent weeks even as the situation deteriorated, several governors in the South, though encouraged vaccines, continued to affirm that it is a personal medical choice that should be made without excessive pressure from the government.
Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina responded to the mandate with lawsuit threats. Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi likened the mandate with tyranny. According to Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio, the nationwide mandate is a “mistake.” Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah had “serious concerns” about the legality of the order. Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, called it an “overreach by the Biden administration.” Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama alluded to the rules as “outrageous, overreaching mandates.” Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas called them an “assault on private businesses.” Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and Gov. Brian Kemp, Republican of Georgia called the president’s actions unlawful. According to Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, these rules violate individual freedom. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida called this plan a declaration of war on constitutional government. Asa Hutchinson, the governor of Arkansas, said the order was “an unprecedented assumption of federal mandate authority.”
Hesitancy to get Vaccinated
Republicans are not the only Americans reluctant to get vaccinated. Vaccine hesitancy has been observed in a broad range of people driven by various fears, such as
- concerns about safety (aggravated by misinformation on the internet falsely claiming that vaccines cause hazardous side effects),
- distrust of the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government.
- Some are motivated by religious beliefs,
- some merely have little access to health care.
- Others have already been infected with Coronavirus and consider themselves immune to further infection, deeming vaccine unnecessary, although the C.D.C. advises previously infected people to get vaccinated because natural immunity may not be sufficient to prevent re-infection.
Positive Response received
Biden’s strongest move yet to escalate the vaccination pace in the country has been welcomed by the hitherto quiet but increasingly frustrated majority of vaccinated Americans who have done their part and want to get their lives back to normal. The vaccine mandate drew praise from the scientific community and doctors who have stressed the urgency of increasing vaccination rates for months to curb the spread of the extremely contagious Delta variant. Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, leaders of the country’s most powerful teacher’s unions, applauded Mr. Biden’s new plan.
Surveys from across the country show that large numbers of Americans support strict vaccine requirements for schools, hospitals, and workplaces. Majorities prefer requiring proof of vaccination to travel by plane, eat at a restaurant, attend a concert, or stay in a hotel. And most vaccinated populace blame the unvaccinated for selfishly endangering others and leading to the resurgence of the virus.
Many employers had already initiated mandatory vaccination programs when the FDA approved full authorization for the Pfizer vaccine. Some of the biggest companies with mandatory vaccination programs are United Airlines, Disney, Tyson Foods, and Fox News.
Other times of Vaccine being Mandatory
Vaccine mandates may seem unprecedented and “un-American”; however, they are a long-established American tradition, and so is the public fury over them. There was an outcry over smallpox vaccine mandates for students in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. News articles and health board reports recount parents marching to schools to demand that their unvaccinated children be allowed to attend. Most parents willingly got their children vaccinated by the polio vaccine, so it was not mandatory initially. The measles vaccine, too, was less controversial because mandates were not enforced initially. But the resistance returned with fear and anger when childhood vaccination mandates were introduced in the 1970s. By 1980, all 50 states issued vaccine mandates for schoolchildren against an array of diseases.
The politicians need to focus their energy on fighting the true enemy, which is the virus, not each other. A large number of Americans are still not vaccinated even though the vaccine is safe, effective, easily accessible, and free. For months, the government tried gentle persuasion, but it did not yield the necessary outcome, so the time has come for a stricter approach. It is not a matter of personal liberty; rather, it is about protecting yourself as well as those around you. Sentiments expressed by the famous quote, “your personal liberty to swing your arm ends where my nose begins.”