To win the war against the novel coronavirus that has now killed over 158,000 people in this country, the only answer is compulsory vaccination — for all of us.
And while the measures that will be necessary to defeat the coronavirus will seem draconian, even anti-American to some, we believe that there is no alternative. Simply put, getting vaccinated is going to be our patriotic duty.
The reason: When an effective vaccine is available for COVID-19, it will only defeat the pandemic if it is widely used, creating “herd immunity.” It is important to note that, during an epidemic, there is no threshold above which the protection conferred by “herd immunity” cannot be improved. Thus, the more people who are immunized, the lower the risk for all of us, including those who are not vaccinated.
Severe penalties for non-compliance
Nor is there an alternative to vaccine-induced herd immunity in a pandemic. Relying on enough people becoming infected and then immune is dangerous, as exemplified by the Swedish experience where the COVID-19 mortality rate exceeds that of its more cautious neighbors.Broad induction of immunity in the population by immunization will be necessary to end this pandemic. In simple terms, a refusal to be vaccinated threatens the lives of others.
So here’s what America must do when a vaccine is ready:
► Make vaccinations free and easily accessible.
► Exempt only those with medical contraindications to immunization. It is likely that more than one vaccine platform will prove effective (as was the case for polio vaccines) and, as a result, medical conditions that prohibit all COVID-19 vaccines will be rare.
► Do not honor religious objections. The major religions do not officially oppose vaccinations.
► Do not allow objections for personal preference, which violate the social contract.
How can government and society assure compliance with protective vaccines? Vaccine refusers could lose tax credits or be denied non-essential government benefits. Health insurers could levy higher premiums for those who by refusing immunization place themselves and others at risk, as is the case for smokers.