Should Washington Mandate Covid-19 Vaccinations?

Matt Lillywhite

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According to The Washington Post, "States with higher vaccination rates now have markedly fewer coronavirus cases, as infections are dropping in places where most residents have been immunized and are rising in many places people have not. States with lower vaccination also have significantly higher hospitalization rates."

All of that raises an important ethical question. If mandating vaccines will reduce cases, hospitalizations, and (potentially) deaths in the state of Washington, is it worth considering?

The Argument For Mandatory Vaccinations

Hesitancy to vaccinate was identified as one of the ten most severe dangers to world health by the WHO in 2019. As a result, governments all around the globe are debating whether or not to make vaccines compulsory. It's worth noting that politicians in Australia, France, and Italy have imposed restrictions on children who have not received the recommended panel of immunizations in their respective countries. 

The evidence for vaccination's efficacy is overwhelming. According to Public Health England, the measles vaccination, which was initially administered in the United Kingdom in 1968 and paired with the mumps and rubella vaccinations in 1988, is estimated to have avoided 20 million cases of measles and saved 4,500 lives. Vaccines that are widely used have an outstanding safety record. Vaccination is second only to providing clean drinking water in terms of enhancing public health. 

Vaccine requirements, simply said, have considerably slowed the spread of other illnesses. As a result, it's reasonable to assume that comparable rules may have the same effect for Covid-19.

The Argument Against Mandatory Vaccinations

Vaccination mandates do not always result in increased vaccine uptake. A few years before COVID-19, an EU-funded investigation on epidemics and pandemics found that nations where vaccination is mandatory do not usually achieve better coverage than neighboring or similar countries where there is no legal duty.

According to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, mandatory vaccination may be appropriate for highly infectious and deadly illnesses. But due to its low case fatality rate, many nations do not categorize COVID-19 as a high-consequence infectious disease, even though it is contagious. 

The Current Plan For Washington

While hundreds of schools and institutions (as well as airlines) have mandated vaccination, most other employers have remained cautious, fearful of the thorny politics around coronavirus vaccinations and the unproven legal difficulties surrounding vaccines certified under the FDA's emergency power.

But according to The Seattle Times, "Washington officials who oversee the state's immunization policies in schools won't consider a requirement to mandate COVID-19 vaccines in schoolchildren until a vaccine is fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration." So, it may happen in the future.

What do you think? Should the state of Washington mandate Covid-19 vaccines or not? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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