COVID-19 vaccinations are not required anywhere in the United States.
Montana has already passed such a bill.
Claiming forced vaccination is tantamount to “discrimination,” Montana’s law prohibits businesses, government agencies, and places of “public accommodation”—grocery stores, hotels, and restaurants—from withholding service or goods from anyone based on vaccination status or use of an “immunity passport.”
Just as legislation bars potential employers from refusing employment based on applicants’ race, gender, ethnicity, or religious affiliation, the Montana law, and those–like Alabama—wishing to emulate it, claims to protect the unvaccinated for the same reasons.
Lowell Pearson, managing partner at Husch Blackwell, a firm tracking the bills, states:
“It’s sort of a solution looking for a problem. We’re not seeing really any broad sense that employers are requiring vaccines in office settings, in manufacturing settings and other places like that.”
University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley explains:
“It’s difficult to see exactly why there’s such an intense reaction here, except through the lens of hyper-partisan politics, that this has just become another signal of party affiliation. This is a civil rights statute. It absolutely is. What this law is saying is that a restriction directed at the unvaccinated is prohibited in the same way as you’d be prohibited from putting up a sign saying, ‘no Irish admitted.'”
Georgetown University law professor Lawrence Gostin warns:
“When a legislature passes an anti-vaccine law, it sends a signal to businesses not to deploy any kind of vaccine system. “The whole idea behind a good vaccination campaign is making not getting vaccinated the harder choice, and getting vaccinated the easy choice. Right now it’s the exact opposite—it’s easier not to be vaccinated.”
Vaccine skepticism accounts for much of the Delta variant now responsible for 83 percent of new COVID-19 infection cases in the United States, mostly in the Mid-west and South.
“If we’re ever going to get to anywhere near herd immunity, we’re going to need people to be getting vaccines where they work, where they learn, where they recreate and where they play. A lot of what they’re [republicans] doing is really undermining the national vaccine campaign.”
That undermining has come from republicans like Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who equated vaccination efforts to Nazi Germany.
Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk has likened it to South African apartheid.
A recent Politico survey reveals that while many Democrats support vaccine mandates and vaccine passports, republicans don’t, claiming it is “the government or most employers infringing on their individual choice”.
A March PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll finds 41% of Republicans don’t plan to get vaccinated.
“Vaccines have been available to most Americans for months, but still only 48.2% of the country is fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—and the rate of new vaccinations is on the decline. Meanwhile, case rates have been going up dramatically. In 47 states, the rate of new cases in the past week are at least 10% higher than the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Of those, 35 have seen increases of over 50%. Officials and experts have said disinformation is largely to blame for the high number of unvaccinated Americans, a group which is now seeing the largest impacts of the pandemic.”
Due to this, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on Monday urged schools this fall to adopt and/or continue universal mask policies for all staff and students above age two regardless of vaccination status.
Chair-elect of the AAP’s school health council, Sara Bode, explained:
“There are many children and others who cannot be vaccinated. This is why it’s important to use every tool in our toolkit to safeguard children from Covid-19. Universal masking is one of those tools, and has been proven effective in protecting people against other respiratory diseases, as well.”
In addition, AAP guidance acknowledges “it may become necessary” for schools to compile vaccine information from staff and students as well as require vaccinations for in-person learning.
Why are republicans so opposed to COVID vaccines?
Claiming it is “political” is reductive.
Perhaps the motive is more insidious.
“I believe these Republicans are trying to promote outbreaks of Covid in America to soften or damage Joe Biden’s red-hot economy on the assumption that if the economy tanks then people will vote out Democrats and vote in Republicans in 2022 and 2024.
“As Pat Buchanan wrote today: ‘Are the Democrats headed for their Little Bighorn, with President Joe Biden as Col. Custer? The wish, you suggest, is father to the thought.’
“They’re not just willing to let tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans die just to win the next two elections, they’re actively encouraging that outcome.
“Is there any other possible explanation?”
Is this where we’ve really come–a partly proudly promoting mass death to score political points?
In America, yes–believe it.
Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, & Third Wednesday. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, Liberal Nation Rising, and Medium.