Is The Presence Or Absence Of A Mandate The Real Issue With Covid Vaccination?

Is The Presence Or Absence Of A Mandate The Real Issue With Covid Vaccination?


Leonard Zwelling

In a recent discussion with a blog reader, the question arose about the value of the vaccination mandates being forwarded by the Biden Administration and the courts’ seeming unwillingness to go along. In the course of that discussion, the polio vaccine question arose as well. In 1954, was the Salk vaccine mandated? Answer, it didn’t have to be. People couldn’t get the stuff into their kids’ arms fast enough. I still remember being taken downtown to Bridgeport, Connecticut to get my first shot. I stood in a long line with many children who were brought there by anxious parents to try to stave off the threat of a crippling disease. No one had to encourage anyone to get the shot and there were no protests that I recall. Yes, there were adverse side effects, but this predated the existence of Institutional Review Boards and detailed protocols for clinical research, not to mention the FDA’s authority over the effectiveness of vaccines. Why is it so different now?

In a word—trust.

In 1954, nine years after the Second World War was won by our government, the people felt that the federal government was a force for good. The fear of polio was palpable every summer and Salk was a hero to the American public. We all moved together and gratefully so to get everyone vaccinated and it was redoubled when the Sabin oral vaccine became available.

Fast forward to Covid.

Since 1954 the government has lied to us about Vietnam, Watergate, IranContra and WMD in Iraq. 9/11 has occurred meaning the government couldn’t even protect us on our own home turf. And now we are debating what happened on January 6, 2021 as if it were of the same magnitude as Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t. It was serious, but more a reflection of the tenor of the times than a leading indicator of a future armed rebellion.

In 1954, a war hero was President. Now we have a political hack with too many years making deals in the US Senate to have a clue of how to be an executive and actually lead. He has no vision and his will is more stubbornness than strength. But, let us not forget that Covid started under the last guy who gets good points for Operation Warp Speed, but negative points for allowing a public health issue to become political. To be blunt, the Trump team threw out the Obama team’s pandemic playbook and replaced it with nothing. So, the virus came. So, we were not ready. So, here we are.

Biden feels that mandates (firms of over 100 workers, health care workers, etc) will protect us from Covid. It won’t. What it might do is curtail the number of serious cases, remove the burden somewhat from the health care system, and leave space in ICUs for people with heart attacks. But a mandate is no substitute for real leadership and the constant shifting of recommendations from the NIH and CDC since this pandemic started with each shift based on “science” has not helped the government’s credibility.

I hope the Biden folks are developing a playbook for the next pandemic that they can pass on to future generations of leadership. The PPE must be ready. Testing must be easy to obtain and best done at home. The value of vaccines needs to be explained to the public and mandates may not be necessary unless everything in American life is going to be reduced to the political and then we have no hope of acting as one to face the next pandemic challenge.

I thought mandates were a good idea until I didn’t. I certainly think that Australia has it right in not letting the unvaccinated in, but what of the unvaccinated Australian citizens? I’d like to know the state of their ICUs and health care system vis a vis Covid cases.

I do not know how to heal the rift that is dividing the country along political lines. Perhaps, there is no way and perhaps this is nothing new. But in 1954, the Salk vaccine was not a political issue and no mandate was needed. How do we get back to there?

2 thoughts on “Is The Presence Or Absence Of A Mandate The Real Issue With Covid Vaccination?”

  1. I agree again with your perspective.
    “How do we get back there?” I do believe that we must get “back there.” It will take tough love, not pandering or tolerating misbehavior. Make the consequences of nonvaccination hit the pocketbook and self esteem.. The Australian Open Tennis decision to deny Djokovic access to play was an important example of tough love.
    Perhaps leaders and parents, and especially grandparents, need to talk more about collective responsibility to one another, to community and to country. Coach K at Duke demands collective responsibility for his basketball teams where young egocentric superstars would otherwise focus on themselves and not the team. If they accept collective responsibility, they stay on the team. Otherwise, they are excluded.
    A certain amount of exclusion has occurred for nonvaxers. But, the majority, who still support the common good, need to continue demanding more responsible behavior from all. Some will NEVER comply. That’s innate disordered behavior of some humans. Let’s call out disordered behavior, restrict its access to community benefits, and move on. Most deaths now from COVID are in nonvaxers. That unfortunately is the ultimate price of misbehaving. It’s the tough love.

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