Solid majorities of Americans support vaccine mandates for schoolchildren, college kids, airline passengers, and yes, even in general for everyone.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they'd support federal, state or local governments requiring everyone to get a coronavirus vaccine, according to a new survey conducted by The COVID States Project.
Why it matters: This kind of blanket mandate hasn't even been proposed, at any level of government. But more piecemeal requirements are rapidly becoming more popular, and the survey suggests Americans are fine with that.
The big picture: There's recently been a surge in vaccine requirements for employees among health care organizations, governments and private businesses. The federal government yesterday became the latest employer to create a new vaccination policy.
But many of these requirements stop short of being actual vaccine mandates, and instead impose additional burdens — such as extra testing — on people who choose to remain unvaccinated. They also only apply to a select group of people, like employees, students or customers.
By the numbers: 64% of respondents said in June or July that they'd support government vaccine requirements, a slight bump up from the 62% who said the same in April or May. 70% said they'd support vaccine requirements to get on an airplane; 61% support requiring children to be vaccinated to go to school; and 66% support requiring college students to be vaccinated to attend a university.
A majority of every demographic subgroup except Republicans said they'd support vaccine requirements. Only 45% of Republicans said they approve of such mandates. A majority of respondents in all but three states — Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota — said they support requirements that everyone be vaccinated.
Between the lines: Unsurprisingly, vaccinated people are more likely to support mandates, and most of the people who "strongly disapprove" of mandates are unvaccinated, according to Matthew Baum, a public policy professor at Harvard University and one of the report's authors.
As WaPo columnist Ruth Marcus puts it, it's far past time to stop coddling the reckless.
Pay people to get vaccinated, no matter whether that is unfair to those who didn’t receive checks for jabs. Require them to do so as a condition of going to work or enrolling in school. Do whatever it takes — and, recent weeks have shown, it is going to take steps like these — to get the pandemic under control.
Those of us who have behaved responsibly — wearing masks and, since the vaccines became available, getting our shots — cannot be held hostage by those who can’t be bothered to do the same, or who are too deluded by misinformation to understand what is so clearly in their own interest.
The more inconvenient we make life for the unvaccinated, the better our own lives will be. More important, the fewer who will needlessly die. We cannot ignore the emerging evidence that the delta variant is transmissible even by those who have been fully vaccinated. “The war has changed,” as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded.
President Biden recognized this new reality with his actions Thursday. He announced that federal employees must be vaccinated or mask up and submit continuing proof that they are not infected; he urged private employers to do the same; and he encouraged the use of federal funds to prod — okay, bribe — the unvaccinated to step up.
If anything, Biden didn’t go far enough. He should have imposed a tighter mandate on federal workers and contractors — no frequent testing option as an alternative. He should have required vaccines for airline and railroad travel. He should have mandated vaccines for members of the military rather than kicking that can a few weeks down the road.
If I sound exasperated, I am, and I don’t think I’m alone. I have been looking forward to going back to my office — or backish, since it likely won’t be full-time — in a few weeks. Now, with D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) having wisely reimposed a mask mandate in the city, it’s hard to see how we’re going to actually pull that off. Better to straggle along on Zoom, seeing one another’s faces, than mask up for eight hours or more.
I have been looking forward to attending synagogue for the Jewish holidays in September, to going to dinner in indoor restaurants with friends, to resuming real life. I have been appreciating the ability to see my 86-year-old mother without fear of infecting her; now I have to worry anew about her getting on a plane to come visit us, as she was planning.
As I was writing this, a vaccinated friend texted to say he had tested positive. He’s not very sick, but he could have infected others who are more vulnerable. This variant is no joke.
It’s reasonable, it’s fair, and it’s legal to step up the pressure on the reckless noncompliant. By reckless, I mean to exclude some people: If you have a medical condition that counsels against vaccination, you are excused.
But even Marcus goes on to say that those with religious objections should be given exemptions as well, something no doubt 99% of the current anti-vax nutjobs will claim, thanks to the Roberts Court.
My advice remains simple: get vaccinated if you're not already, wear masks indoors in public, and stay safe. It's 2020 all over again, only this time the stakes are much higher. You're much more likely to end up in the ICU this time thanks to delta if you're not vaccinated.
Be smart, folks.