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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

My country’s health, my responsibility?

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ILLUSTRATION: LAUREN YINGLING ’25
Covid-19 vaccine mandates cause controversy

Vaccine mandates in the U.S. are as old as the country itself. In 1777, George Washington mandated that all his soldiers get the smallpox vaccine, and subsequent victories against British troops were attributed to this mandate. In 1855, Massachusetts instituted the first school vaccine mandates.

Now, in 2021, President Joe Biden has announced a covid-19 vaccine mandate for all federal workers, healthcare workers and workers at companies with more than 100 employees. The 30% of Americans over the age of 18 who are unvaccinated have criticized this mandate, citing bodily autonomy and distrust of the vaccine’s safety.

Meanwhile, the other 70% of adult Americans are frustrated that, despite everything they are doing to protect themselves and others from covid, they have hit a dead end due to so many people being unvaccinated. It’s beginning to seem like vaccine mandates are the only solution to return to complete normalcy.

While I got vaccinated as soon as possible last spring, and chose to trust the pharmaceutical companies and the government, I can understand some people’s apprehension to get the vaccine at first. Even though other vaccines have been distributed for decades or even centuries, and have been proven to work with rare instances of side effects, this vaccine was brand new.

Even I was worried that there would be unforeseen consequences to getting it.

However, it has now been 10 months since covid vaccines were first distributed to healthcare workers, and there still haven’t been any reports of serious, widespread health concerns caused by the vaccine.

Of course, there are the side effects experienced the day after receiving the vaccine, like muscle pain, fever, headache, fatigue and nausea, but these are shared experiences among everyone who gets vaccinated and are not dangerous.

There have been extremely rare cases of anaphylaxis, which is why people are asked to stay at the vaccination site to be monitored so that they can receive immediate treatment if it is necessary.

There is also the rare case (seen in seven for every one million women between the ages of 17 and 49) of experiencing blood clots after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. People have other vaccines to choose from if they do not want to take this risk, such as the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.

Meanwhile, more Americans have died from covid in 2021 than 2020, despite vaccines being readily available for most of this year.

It is clear that the benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the risks.

Given all of this, it is still apparent that people would rather be dismissed from their jobs than get vaccinated against covid. Naturally, people are blaming the government for issuing this mandate and decreasing the amount of people doing jobs that are critical to society. But why not blame the people who spread vaccine misinformation?

The point of vaccine mandates is not to increase unemployment and kick unvaccinated people out of society. Rather, it is to ensure that workplaces are safe from the spread of covid.

In an Oct. 19 White House press conference, Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to a reporter who questioned, “If the whole point of a vaccine mandate is to make people safer, but a vaccine mandate also means tons of police and military may walk off the job, then at the end of the day does a vaccine mandate make people safer?”

She responded by pointing to the statistic that the number one cause of death among police officers last year was covid.

If the job of police officers and other first responders, as well as military personnel, is to protect their fellow citizens, and they are willing to risk their lives for their respective communities, why is it too much to ask that they get vaccinated?

From my observations, it seems that the people who are still not vaccinated and do not plan to get vaccinated are the same people who criticize covid regulations and want the pandemic to be declared over.

As President Biden said to the unvaccinated in his speech announcing the mandate, “your refusal has cost all of us.” Those who have gotten vaccinated and have done everything that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended do not want to wear masks the rest of their lives.

Everyone wants this nightmare to end, but that requires everyone doing their part.

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