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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.

2021 Digital Almanac

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