Dr. Aaron E. Carroll is the chief health officer for Indiana University. IU is one of 500 colleges and universities that have mandated covid vaccination. Houston Methodist Hospital has done the same and fired those who would not get vaccinated without a medical or religious reason to be exempt. As Dr. Carroll points out in his opinion piece in The New York Times on June 29, more mandates are coming and they ought to.
For some reason that is not clear to me, acting like an inconsiderate bore has become a mark of American independence among the right wing. These folks refuse to get vaccinated and will even go to court to not be forced to comply. Well, they aren’t forced to comply. They just have to comply if they want to participate in civilized society. If you don’t want to stop for red lights, that’s on you and you will suffer the consequences if caught. Unfortunately, others may also suffer the consequences of your uncivilized behavior. The same is true with vaccination.
If the United States (and the rest of the world) is really going to get back to pre-covid normal, everyone with the exception of those with medical conditions that preclude vaccination or with religious convictions that are protected by law must be vaccinated.
As Dr. Carroll points out, the success we have had in conquering most infectious diseases of childhood (measles, mumps, rubella) have stemmed from a vigorous and mandatory vaccination program in the schools. That we have not eliminated cervical cancer through the use of the HPV vaccine is mostly because we have not mandated its use. Someone actually has found a cure for cancer. It’s a prevention strategy. Still more than half of American teenagers are not vaccinated with the HPV shot leaving them susceptible to a potentially fatal malignancy.
It’s all well and good to have vaccine giveaways and lotteries as carrots to get people to do what they ought to do, but I happen to believe in sticks, too. If you refuse vaccination against covid you should be barred from using any public transportation including the airlines. You should not be allowed in a movie theater or baseball park. You shouldn’t be allowed to enter a shopping mall and certainly not a hospital or school.
No one is making you get vaccinated. The government is just limiting your threat to the well being of others if you remain stubborn and inconsiderate.
Dr. Carroll makes the point that such public health mandates are frequently unpopular. Clearly actually being qualified to own a firearm is unpopular among the leadership of Texas although I have no idea why. Having gone through the process of being licensed to carry, I can assure you it isn’t all that hard, but it does make sure you have an idea what a gun can do and how to use one. The same is true with a car. You can’t even charge to give a massage without a license. Governments do make you do things and getting vaccinated against covid ought to be one of those things.
As a physician who spent a lot of time trying to alleviate suffering and doing research to understand the nature of malignancy, I am troubled by society’s lack of discipline regarding ways to keep people healthy. Vaccination is one of the ways. Mandate it. Period.