It’s hard to believe I’ve reached this point.
I believe in vaccines, and I’ve been vaccinated for COVID. I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine months ago, thinking that doing so would allow me to go maskless and return to normal living.
And it was great… for a while. I could go out to dinner or out shopping without wearing a stupid piece of cloth on my face that was more effective at fogging up my glasses than protecting me from COVID. It was also great to be able to understand people when they talked again. But now, mask mandates are coming back, even for those of us who have been vaccinated. So, what was the point? I didn’t get the vaccine so I would have to wear a mask again. Sure, the delta variant is more contagious, but it’s less deadly. Also, I’m still young enough and healthy enough that COVID doesn’t actually pose a significant risk to me. Heck, it’s even possible that I’ve already had COVID, having been really sick for a short period in late February/early March of last year. At the very least, though, I’m fully vaccinated, and yet I’m still expected to don a mask in some places. Ridiculous.
But things went to a whole other level on Thursday when Biden announced his vaccine/testing mandate, during which he even conceded just how authoritarian and un-American his proposal is. “This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you. The people you work with. The people you care about. The people you love. My job as president is to protect all Americans.”
Biden’s new attitude comes just eight months after he claimed he opposed vaccine mandates. “No, I don’t think it should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it be mandatory,” Biden said. “But I would do everything in my power — just like I don’t think masks have to be made mandatory nationwide — I will do everything in my power as president of the United States to encourage people to do the right thing. And when they do it, demonstrate that it matters.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had also previously said that vaccine mandates are “not the role” of the federal government.
The problem is that everything Biden has done to encourage people to get vaccinated has failed. Vaccination rates had been rising steadily until he decided to pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over a nominal risk (fewer than one in a million) of severe blood clots. After that, vaccine doses sharply declined and never recovered.
I chose to get vaccinated, but I’d never want anyone to get vaccinated against their will—which is essentially what Biden is proposing here. Maybe people will still technically have a choice, but who wants to choose between employment or vaccination? No one should have to be put in that position. The same people who say masks work contradict themselves by saying vaccines should be mandatory.
But there’s a far bigger issue here. If the government can mandate that people inject themselves with something in the name of the public good, what can’t they do? If such a thing is allowed to continue, what will the next expansion of government power look like?
The fact is that while the vaccines are overwhelmingly safe, there have been documented side effects, such as heart inflammation in young people. They’re rare, yes, but recovery rates for COVID are high enough that perfectly reasonable people can weigh the risks of both options and come to different conclusions.
The response to the mandate has been swift and fierce. Republican governors will take this to court, and I have reasonable hope that the courts will strike down the mandate as unconstitutional. The mandate itself doesn’t impact me having already been vaccinated, but believe me, between this and the resurrection of the mask mandates, I wish I wasn’t. Perhaps that sounds absurd to some people, but vaccination is likely not going to stop mask mandates anytime soon, and the idea of having already done something the Biden administration wants to force me to do just irks me. I got vaccinated because I believed it was the best way to bring back a normal life. That’s clearly not the case. The government will continue to assume power it doesn’t have, so I regret getting vaccinated because I’m part of the resistance when it comes to mandates.