By Teresa Dankoski, Staff Writer
As the COVID-19 Delta variant rips its way through the U.S., vaccine mandates are becoming increasingly common in workplaces and schools. Arguments against getting the shots such as “the government can’t make me” and “it’s a free country” are seeming to have less and less leverage as we move forward as a nation.
Last Thursday, President Joe Biden gave the country a huge push in the right direction when he delivered a pointed speech addressing the roughly 80 million eligible Americans who remain unvaccinated. Though they are in the minority, Biden called them out for being the barrier that is “keeping us from turning the corner.” And he couldn’t be more right.
Not only did he hold these people up to some much needed criticism, but he also set in place a mandate that will apply to approximately 100 million working Americans.
This is massive progress for the U.S. When the Delta variant began to break out across the world, it felt like we were reliving a nightmare we thought was coming to a close. Just as case numbers were starting to settle, this new strain — even more severe and contagious than the first — has knocked us back into mask-wearing and social distancing. However, this time around, we have the vaccine to protect us.
It only works if people actually get it, though. And knowing the American people, we likely won’t reach the targeted rates of vaccination that officials are shooting for unless they enforce it.
Even Dr. Colleen Hanycz, president, has enforced a mandate here on campus requiring every student to receive their full dose by the start of the Spring 2022 semester, which will hopefully raise our 77% of vaccinated students to a much more reassuring 100%.
On campus or off, there is no reason to wait to get your shots. As Biden said in his speech, it’s “safe, effective and free.” Not only is it all of those things, it’s also convenient. There are over 80,000 vaccination sites in the U.S., and one of them is right up the hill at the Health United Building.
For non-college students, part of Biden’s mandate focuses on removing the obstacles many people face in order to get their shots, such as allowing laborers paid time off to receive their vaccine. Again, if you’re looking for a reason not to get vaccinated, you’re going to have a hard time coming up with one.
By getting vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself, but also your friends, classmates, coworkers and family. It isn’t a matter of freedom anymore — nor was it ever — but rather a matter of life and death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unvaccinated people are hospitalized at 29 times higher rates, and the chances of an unvaccinated individual dying are 15 times higher than those of a vaccinated individual.
In Biden’s words, “This is the pandemic of the unvaccinated.” As of right now, COVID-19 patients are flooding hospitals and using up ventilators at a rate that our doctors and nurses could not possibly keep up with, causing them to deny other sick patient the care they need.
Getting your vaccine shows that you care for every part of your community, and having these mandates enforced may allow us to move forward to living full and normal lives again. Whether or not it is forced upon you, with all that we know, it is inarguable that getting vaccinated is the smart, responsible and compassionate thing to do for this free but struggling country.