Less than half of the American people are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus while 65 percent have received at least one dose of the two doses required for full protection against Covid-19.
The consequences of having so many unvaccinated people in the United States are unclear. The number of positive tests for the coronavirus has doubled in recent weeks because of the very contagious “Delta Variant” of Covid-19 but the number of serious illnesses and deaths has risen by less than half that number.
Public health officials have been urging vaccine mandates for those who work in the healthcare industry — especially in nursing homes. But the question of a national vaccine mandate for all has barely been debated, largely because it is political dynamite.
Eventually, a decision will have to be made. Otherwise, we could easily end up with a two-tiered society — the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Those who are vaccinated will be able to go anywhere and do anything. Those who aren’t will be limited.
A large part of the problem is the lack of Covid liability shield laws in the states. If you go to a restaurant that doesn’t mandate a vaccination or a negative test and contract the coronavirus, the restaurant owner may be held liable and could be sued. Or if your office doesn’t follow CDC guidelines and an employee gets sick, the owner can expect legal action.
The hodgepodge of liability shield laws in the 50 states cries out for some kind of federal action. But Democrats will never agree to any meaningful liability shield because some of their biggest backers are personal injury lawyers. They are looking forward to huge paydays unless businesses reduce or eliminate the risk by excluding the unvaccinated. And since Congress won’t act, big and small businesses are likely to prefer that everyone is jabbed rather than deal with policing their customers and employees to check if they’ve been vaccinated.
The business community could become a nationwide vaccine mandate’s biggest boosters.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron is already warning the unvaccinated that a mandate may be on the way.
“If you want to be free and responsible, you vaccinate — your choice and your consequences,” said Jacques Rupnik, a political scientist. “That was the president’s message. The risk, however, is of a dual, or two-speed, society.”
That risk was put most bluntly by Michèle Rivasi, a Green member of the European Parliament with a history of vaccination skepticism, who declared, “This is apartheid in the land of human rights.”
The more than 2.2 million people who signed up to get vaccinated in the 48 hours since Mr. Macron spoke appeared not to agree with Ms. Rivasi. Their haste suggested that all the French needed to get the vaccine was a powerful prod of a kind not seen up to now.
The American people don’t react well to threats of that kind. They are just as likely to spit in Biden’s face then get jabbed on his say-so. But the risk of a two-speed society or “apartheid” as the green anti-vax MEP suggested is very real unless the mass of vaccine holdouts — mostly those under 30 — realize it’s in their best interest to get inoculated.
They won’t. So about the time the teachers threaten to strike unless there’s a nationwide mandate to be vaccinated, the young won’t have a choice. The military expects its own vaccine mandate by September. And the rest of the U.S. won’t be far behind.