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Analysis: Fed vaccine mandate's many roots

In the early days of the Biden White House, the president announced his number one goal was to beat back COVID—starting with getting at least one vaccine shot into 70% of the population by July 4. 

But, between vaccine hesitancy among some and inaccurate anti-vaccination messaging affecting millions of others (especially via social media), achieving that goal was delayed by a month. Worse, in states like Louisiana and Arkansas, vaccination rates remained much lower even as hospital COVID ICUs began filling up, helping push national infection numbers to over 100,000 per day. 

Against these stubborn challenges to quashing COVID and returning the nation's life and economy to normal, in recent weeks the White House issued tough new vaccination mandates—first for federal workers and then for the uniformed military. 

But with a sizable minority of Americans still hostile to vaccination, particularly in the South and the Midwest, how did the administration weigh the pros and cons of such a potentially contentious anti-COVID policy, starting with federal employees? Some answers can be found in a new analysis piece in Politico. 

The piece notes that the White House, already alarmed by the more infectious and possibly more deadly delta strain of the virus, saw some pluses in vaccination mandates after verifying the clear scientific fact that more than 97 percent of new hospitalizations were suffered by the unvaccinated. Next, the White House talked to business interests. Leaders of some top corporations, it turned out, had no idea how many of their employees were actually vaccinated—and they signaled they might welcome a government model for stricter COVID policy. 

Finally, among other factors, the policy change was helped along by polling that showed—as it continues to show—that a majority of the population favors stronger vaccination requirements.

Reader comments

Sun, Aug 15, 2021 Juan Jiminez

These are “investigational COVID vaccines” (per the FDA) which are not yet fully FDA approved. The long term side effects are not yet known, as they haven’t been through 4 years of longitudinal testing (as required of other vaccines). The decision to mandate them is being made based on fear, and this country has a terrible history of trampling on the rights of citizens during times of fear, like the internment of Japanese American civilians during WWII. What’s next, forced sterilization of people carrying genetic diseases? If the government can mandate one medical treatment against your will, why not the other “for the greater good”? Oh that’s right, the US government ACTUALLY STERILIZED CITIZENS AGAINST THEIR WILL, and at the time they cited Jacobsen v MA, the same precedent that the government is citing now to justify COVID vaccine mandates. Future generations will view these COVID vaccine mandates, like the government forced sterilization which preceded them, with great shame, horror, and disbelief. We are being forced to give up all of the rights that our forefathers fought and died for due to a virus with a single digit mortality rate - this is madness. As with the Patriot Act, the US government continues its assault on citizens’ rights, and long after the pandemic is over they will never be restored. The war on terror is over, yet the Patriot Act is still in full effect.

Fri, Aug 13, 2021 John Columbus, OH

And I thought Feds generally had some common sense. Reading these comments is like being on a "Q" message board...incredible. After you quit your job out of fear of a "jab", remember to take your kids out of school because they must have (gasp) multiple vaccines for the protection of all. But I guess the folks afraid of the "jab" don't really care about anybody else, including their kids, but themselves. That is the big takeaway from the Trump years...it is all about me. What happened to "we the people"? Let's just start it out with "me, myself, and I and the hell with the rest of you". The government will be better served without those kind of folks.

Fri, Aug 13, 2021

Over 8,000 in Mississippi killed by COVID. Zero killed by vaccine. 98 percent sick in hospital = NOT vaccinated. Vaccine isn't terrorism.

Fri, Aug 13, 2021

May God heal all who contract Covid and re-unite them with their families who can only be home waiting for the phone call.

Thu, Aug 12, 2021 james davis Sacramento

How credible are the comments without a person's name. If yo believe in what you say you should be willing to be asked about it

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