Vaccine Mandates Will Backfire - People Will Resist Even More

In recent weeks, calls for vaccine mandates have increasingly been heard: In a column headlined “Stop pleading with anti-vaxxers and start mandating vaccinations,” The Washington Post’s Max Boot implored President Biden to “stop making reasonable appeals to those who will not listen to reason.” Former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius lamented that “we’re going to tiptoe around mandates,” and she’s “kind of over that.” A coalition of medical professional organizations, including the American Medical Association, has asked for “all health care and long-term care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, there’s a top-down push to get reluctant citizens vaccinated: The White House and the Department of Education partnered with colleges and universities on a “Covid-19 College Vaccine Challenge.” On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to mandate vaccinations for more than 100,000 of its employees. On Thursday, Biden announced that civilian federal workers must be vaccinated or submit to regular coronavirus testing.

But if this rhetoric and these efforts lead to a de facto national vaccine mandate, it will backfire: Americans from all walks of life resist being told what to put into their bodies, and many will resent any politician or institution that makes them get vaccinated, creating a crisis of legitimacy for any government, university or business that forces constituents, students or employees to get vaccinated. Indeed, the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association has already said, “There will be a lot of pushback” from members of his organization against the federal employee mandate.

Biden’s words have been measured and conciliatory, but his policies have steadily crept in the direction of the crowd that shows intolerance toward legitimate vaccine concerns.

A democracy must use democratic means — acknowledging unknowns, continuing outreach and avoiding stigmatization — even to combat something as serious and urgent as a pandemic. Making people get vaccinated, by contrast, will likely increase mistrust. Instead of “normalizing” the jab, it risks creating a permanent and hardened segment of our society, primed to oppose government efforts to deal with covid or other public health crises on the horizon.

Source: Washington Post