The great mandates: COVID requirements protect thousands upon thousands of additional Americans

New York Daily News editorial board (TNS)
Anti-vaccine protesters stage a protest outside of the San Diego Unified School District office to protest a forced vaccination mandate for students on Sept. 28, 2021 in San Diego, California. The School District was holding a virtual hearing on whether to enact a mandate for students to receive at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images/TNS)

For all the manufactured controversy around COVID vaccine mandates, one thing no one can deny is that they’re fulfilling their intended purpose. From health care workers in California to employees of the food production behemoth Tyson, tying vaccination to continued employment is pushing people around the country to get the jab and help at long last restrict the virus’ ability to kill and propagate itself.

After numerous dashed hopes that we were seeing the end of this ordeal, infection rates are flagging around the country, opening up the possibility that — fingers crossed ever so tightly — delta might be the last variant to rampage across the United States. Whether or not workers are getting inoculated grudgingly is beside the point. The antibodies their bodies will produce don’t care if their hosts were vaccinated with a smile or a grimace.

As the sticks and carrots pile up and more people take this simple and lifesaving step, stubborn anti-vaxxers who have continued spreading misinformation and pressing lawsuits against state, federal and employer-instituted mandates should realize that they have lost. If they have any remaining shame, they will step aside and drop their efforts to keep muddying the waters and prolonging the pandemic. It is individuals’ right to refuse to get their shots, but it is society’s right and responsibility to protect itself.

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The next frontier for mandates must be public school students themselves. The vaccine has not yet received full approval for most young people, but the FDA OK is sure to come soon. The second it does, COVID-19 inoculation should join the litany of immunization required for school entrance and attendance. New York already lists nine different shots.

Skeptics and anti-vaxxers have spent a lot of time and energy trying to convince the public that COVID was equivalent to the seasonal flu. Early on, given the virulence of this novel virus, that was a preposterous notion. Now, ironically, the analogy makes some sense: It’s here, and it’s morphing. Get your shot, and regular boosters, to ward it off.