Letter: No vaccine? Well then you can’t do this
Let’s talk about vaccine mandates. To me, it falls under the topic of medical ethics — always a very layered discussion. Spoiler alert: I am not certain mandates are a good thing.
Medical ethics often (and should) overlap with civic and government responsibility. I don’t think anyone questions that one of the many roles of the government — and its definition — is to protect its citizens. Just look the word up in any dictionary.
But just how far can a government go regarding health mandates? It is OK for a government to mandate us to black out our curtains during a bomb raid? Is it OK for a government to mandate us to drive 55 mph? Is it OK for a government to mandate legal alcohol driving and even public-consumption limits? OK for government to ban smoking in restaurants and public spaces? But it’s not OK for government to mandate a vaccine against a rapidly spreading virus that causes extreme and expensive morbidity and considerable mortality? I’m just asking the questions. I don’t have the answers.
Clearly, mandating someone to undergo a medical procedure is different than mandating someone to go do something medically or biologically to their bodies. And most of those mandates against doing something to yourself are because those actions have consequences to the general public. (Or, because you want to impose your religious beliefs on women. Oh my, are we going there?) Let’s be clear about that. I always joke to my clients: We don’t have a pet rabies vaccine mandate to protect dogs and cats; it’s to protect people.
In my opinion and those of many others, a mandate often is counterproductive; resistance mounts just due to the word “mandate” alone. More effective is to regulate, so that unvaccinated people cannot participate in certain aspects of our society. Just like a drunk person can’t participate in automobile driving.
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So, no vaccine? Well then, no flying, sports events, restaurants, public shopping, mass transportation, school and college. Watch what happens — very quickly. We had to show a vaccine card to do all of the above in San Francisco. It was mandated! There wasn’t much public resistance.
Thanks for reading. COVID-19 has changed the paradigm — that much is clear. Hopefully, the omicron variant will flare out quickly. But COVID-19 is here to stay; this is what we call a pandemic. Happy holidays and new year to everyone.