Vaccine mandates are unjust

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Photo by Annabelle Nicholas

There is a question today that holds special importance for our country’s future: should those in positions of authority impose the COVID-19 vaccines upon the populace? President Biden and a sizable portion of our country passionately back this idea. 

This ought to give us significant pause. It is a question of who ought to make the decisions at the most basic level: the individual or the government. 

I argue that decisions regarding medical treatment, such as vaccination, are among the most basic, and ought to rest entirely in the hands of the individual.

There are many today whose jobs and futures are threatened because of their commitment to their conscience. This is a gross injustice, for it is against a person’s bodily autonomy and civil liberties to remove their right to make their own medical decisions. 

It is not moral to force someone to take the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no correspondence between the lack of vaccination of one individual and another’s infection and death. 

Rather, such a mandate suppresses autonomy and individual choice. At the expense of civil liberties, mandated vaccination is a cure that is more extreme than the harm. 

Have we gotten to a place where mandated vaccination is necessary? Acknowledging the fact that there are differing opinions about the magnitude of COVID-19 and the proper means of treating it, let us assume that COVID-19 merits a large-scale effort for vaccination in our country.

Let us firstly ask if it is necessary that everyone be vaccinated in order to achieve the desired goal of reducing spreading. That is not so evident. Additionally, it is not clear that even a 100% rate of vaccination would end the issue. Should we then mandate each booster and new vaccine that comes out? 

There must be other courses of action. I believe that we must maintain the practice of allowing an exemption, if nothing else. Since vaccination is a matter of protecting oneself, anyone can get the vaccine if they so wish, but it must remain a private choice. 

I believe that the push for mandates has come into the public square here in the US because we are incredibly politically polarized. The means of increasing unity does not lie in mandates, for they will inevitably cause division, and are already doing so. 

Vaccine mandates will only serve to drive the country further apart, creating classes of the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, and grossly removing the bulwark of civil liberties that our forefathers fought to establish.

What is the balance between one’s conscience and the greater good? I believe that COVID-19 does not merit the removal of one’s right to pursue the dictates of their conscience. 

Individual conscience must be sacrificed to the greater good only if the dictates of conscience endanger the rights and life/livelihood of another. In this case, I think it is too extreme to say that not being vaccinated is against another’s life/livelihood, and additionally, a mandate is precisely against the rights of the individual who is forced to be vaccinated. 

As a nation, we must look beyond the caricature of a group who are portrayed as uncaring of the well-being of others.Those who reject the COVID-19 vaccine mandates are making difficult decisions out of firm principle and love of country. For them, what we face is not simply a health crisis, but a crisis that is already transforming our political rights, and not only these, but our moral principles as a nation. 

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