In his September 9th speech, President Joe Biden addressed the nation. He spoke about recent spikes in the Delta variant of Covid-19 and the responsibility of all Americans to get vaccinated. To that effect, he offered an Executive order, mandating that all federal employees receive vaccinations and ordering the Labor Department to issue mandatory vaccine rules for large companies.
This sweeping policy decision will directly affect about 80 million workers. With such contention over the issue, groups were fast to criticize this policy decision, calling it a violation of civil liberties and associating it with “Big Brother” government. Responding to criticisms, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki described, “what you heard the President convey yesterday is the next steps that he is taking using every lever of government to reduce sicknesses, to reduce hospitalizations, to protect more people, and save more lives.”
Public Health Should Be the Top Priority
Most Americans (179.2 million people) are fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, America remains immersed in a political battle between civil liberties and public health. While both sides have merit to their arguments, protecting public health is (and should be) the clear priority of governments. The good health of a population is a precursor to all economic, social, and political development. Death is real and sickness has contributed to the demise of far more nations than war or corruption. In a democracy, laws are meant to strike a balance, rigid enough to maintain order while flexible enough to adjust to the times. While the argument around protecting civil liberties is logical, it is unreasonable when applied to the times.
Their rigid perception of civil liberties has not adjusted to the situation at hand.
In 2020, before the vaccine was distributed, the United States saw over 80 million cases and 375,000 Covid-19 related deaths. Millions were laid off while thousands of small businesses and mid-sized companies were shut down indefinitely. The nation was in crisis, vaccines were developed to stop all of that.
Vaccines were presented as the ultimate solution. And while that promise has not come to fruition, studies show vaccines to have 90%+ efficacy when it comes to protecting the vaccinated against severe cases of Covid-19. While it did not eliminate the risks completely, with the inclusion of the vaccine, rates of contraction, hospitalization and death have all decreased significantly. Vaccines do protect populations from contracting the virus.
Societies have short memories, but after witnessing the tragedy of last year, avoiding massive losses of life should remain the top priority. While individuals do have the right to make personal health decisions, it is the responsibility of the government to promote public health.
And when personal health decisions threaten public health, the government has a responsibility to intervene.
Vaccine Mandates Will be Hard to Enforce
Although vaccines are beneficial and necessary to combat a global pandemic, President Biden’s vaccine mandates will be hard to enforce. Yes, President Biden is well within his right to enforce the vaccine mandate as President of the United States. However, implementing a mask mandate has its struggles, let alone mandating citizens to inject themselves with a pretty new vaccine. In a recent Gallup Poll, over 100 million Americans were still unsure about the vaccine.
It takes time to get Americans to buy into these vaccines. History shows Americans are slow to get vaccines. Only about half of adults in America get the flu shot, despite decades of safety provisions and evidence that proves it is okay. To go further, Biden’s tactic of relying on the laws to force vaccination is how someone could remain unvaccinated.
According to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employee, student, etc., could be exempt from taking the vaccine under religious beliefs and disability status. In theory, Biden can mandate 73 million federal employees to get the vaccine; nevertheless, those same 73 million could fall under those categories and add complications to enforcing the vaccine mandate.
President Biden’s new scare tactic by leveraging American’s job is a stretch and ironic. A president’s job is also to create jobs, not take them away. As the commander and chief, he has the right to dictate what he will and will not allow in positions under his branch. He also has a right to ensure that Americans stay employed.
In part, President Biden is desperate for solutions and will try anything to rid the virus that has plagued his nation. On the other hand, President Biden fails to understand why the majority of Americans are cautious. Vaccinations do not happen overnight. “Losing patience” over something relatively new is ludicrous when the vaccines first appeared less than one year ago. The fact that Biden was able to get a little under half of the population fully vaccinated in a matter of ten months is a small victory. As far as the other half of unvaccinated people, it will take time to understand it will not happen tomorrow.