No matter what, vaccines must not be mandatory


Berk Oto

Although we are in the midst of a pandemic, vaccines should not be made mandatory writes content manager Noa Appelbaum.

Noa Appelbaum, Content Manager

After months of anxiety and hopelessness, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel. Announcements that vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer each are about 95% effective caused many to breathe a sigh of relief. While it is still unclear when the shots will be available to the general public, people are overjoyed that they won’t have to wait several years to become immune, as was previously feared by many. 

There are, however, worries about the safety and potential side effects of the vaccine, as the development and authorization process was completed so quickly. 

Although we are in the midst of a pandemic, vaccines should not be made mandatory. However, schools and workplaces should enforce their own vaccination rules, such as prohibiting unvaccinated people to work or learn in-person. By requiring students and workers to be vaccinated, schools and workplaces will be able to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and perhaps persuade hesitant people to immunize themselves, as they see how the rest of society is returning to normal.

Before the pandemic, individual state legislation decided most vaccination rules. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all 50 states require children to be vaccinated to attend school, with certain exceptions for religious purposes as well as for students with conditions preventing an immunization. Vaccine requirements for jobs depend on the state and career type. But with the severity of the coronavirus, there is talk among government officials that vaccines should be mandatory and required on a federal level to control the disease. 

However, people are understandably concerned about the safety of a vaccine, and it is immoral to force people to vaccinate themselves with something that, in its mechanics and process duration, is so new.  For one, the necessary steps to make a vaccine were completed at a record pace — the previous fastest vaccine development took four years. This was decades ago, but FDA standards have become even tighter. Moreover, people are also hesitant because these vaccines use a very new technique to deliver the treatment, in which your RNA is changed. While physicians say this is safe and effective, it can be unsettling to people, even those who get other vaccines. Another unnerving aspect of the vaccine is the uncertainty of long-term side effects.

Enforcement will likely be met with an outcry from many citizens, possibly triggering more protest.

Legislative uncertainties are another downside to forcing vaccination. In the country’s fragile economic and legal state, mandating the vaccine is just another new development the country has to face. How will the government ensure everyone takes the vaccine, and what is an appropriate consequence if they don’t? As the country shifts from one president to another, it is essential to have unity and trust in our elected officials and build strong connections between the government and citizens. In a tense political climate, we will have to attend to the complex details of enforcing vaccination, and we will have to consider what exceptions to new rules. Enforcement will likely be met with an outcry from many citizens, possibly triggering more protest.

While some scientists say mandating vaccination will increase our herd immunity, forcing a vaccine onto the American people will create dire repercussions that in the end will compromise the moral and legal fabric our country was built on. People have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and how to take care of themselves.

While I will be more than willing to take the vaccine once it’s available, I understand and recognize that some people have legitimate concerns about this very new treatment and its effects. Vaccines should certainly be promoted and encouraged, but making them mandatory is a step too far in the wrong direction.