The Complexities of a Vaccine Mandate
Despite America having the majority of its citizens vaccinated, President Joe Biden and his camp believe that government mandates are not just ideal but necessary. For many, the mandate represents the last effort the country has to do to end the pandemic once for all. For others, it represents a clear violation of their individual rights.
Early this month, United States President Joe Biden ordered a new federal vaccine requirement for not only health care workers and federal contractors but also private-sector employees.
Biden's federal mandate represents the President's latest effort to address the pandemic. The mandate would require as many as 100 million Americans to get vaccinated.
During the announcement of this new requirement, President Biden criticized the millions of Americans who are not yet vaccinated.
We've been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us" Biden said.
The President added that those who are unvaccinated are causing "a lot of damage" to the country.
Biden's mandate has been praised by some.
"No question that in regard to the mandate from the government, businesses need clarity," said John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
"If they [businesses] can go to their employees and say the government is requiring us...it just makes it so much easier," Mr. Challenger added.
It has also received some pushback.
For instance, 24 Republican state attorneys general wrote a public letter to President Biden where they claimed that the mandate is "disastrous and counterproductive."
"Mr. President, your vaccination mandate represents not only a threat to individual liberty, but a public health disaster that will displace vulnerable workers and exacerbate a nationwide hospital staffing crisis, with severe consequences for all Americans," the letter reads.
A similar dynamic took place in New York when, in August, a group of restaurants sued the city over a vaccinate mandate for indoor activities, arguing that the mandate is "unscientific" and "would severely impact" the restaurants' "business, life-savings, and livelihood."
According to the New York Times, the lawsuit has the support of elected officials from the Republican Party, such as Representative Nicole Malliotakis as well as City Council member Joe Borelli.
Others have brought up the question of whether a mandate is even necessary, as currently, close to 70 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 55 percent of citizens are fully vaccinated. In fact, the vaccination rate of Americans over the age of 65 is closer to 85 percent, which means that most people at risk are already fully vaccinated.
Ultimately, what it is clear is that there is no consensus around the issue of issuing a vaccination mandate.
This is precisely why President Biden should not push for more vaccination mandates. People should not be forced into something; for several reasons.
First, pushing a population into something it generally creates even more pushback than before. This was true regarding Drugs, and it is true regarding vaccines. In fact, I would argue that the vaccine issue is even more delicate, as on many occasions, it goes against the religious beliefs of many people. Therefore, a mandate will only do more harm than good.
Second, government mandates are not what America represents. Whether vaccines mandates are individual rights violations or not, the spirit of a government mandate is not what America is all about but rather what third-world countries experience. America is a place where government asks people's permission to do something, not the other way around.
So, while I will leave to constitutional lawyers the issue of whether a vaccine mandate is an individual right violation (For instance, Hoover Institution's Richard Epstein recently wrote an Op-Ed on the subject, arguing that the case for universal vaccination is "uneasy."), it is pretty clear that America's ethos is neither the ruling of the majority nor the ruling of enlightened kings. America is a republic where government serves its people.
So, what should the Biden administration do? It should do exactly what democratic governments do when they want to incentivize a specific behavior. I.e., it should keep incentivizing people to get the vaccine – by communicating the benefits of vaccination and the risks of not doing so.
Because if the Biden administration tries to impose vaccination by force, it will end up creating an even bigger issue.
By Jorge Jraissati
Jorge Jraissati is a Venezuelan economist and freedom advocate. He is the Director of Alumni Programs of Students For Liberty, an NGO advancing the ideas of a free society in over 100 countries. Beyond SFL, Jorge is a research consultant for IESE Business School, an economist from the Wilkes Honors College, and the President of Venezuelan Alliance, a policy group specialized in the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis. Jorge is a weekly columnist here at Freedom Today Network.