Sure, there are certainly things and times to exert one’s American-based right to free choice. However, that right is finite and is not allowable in all situations.
Besides, if everyone here had the right to freely choose what they wanted and did not want, Black folks might still be enslaved, and women’s rights would be but a pipe dream.
When one’s right to choose heavily impinges on both others’ rights to do the same thing, and on what is clearly the best choice for a public good, there will always be a fight. With the issue of whether to vaccinate or not vaccinate, that level of context has now been reached and affects public school openings this fall, job searches, etc.
Already people are arguing over whether to invoke another mask mandate or not, given the re-rise of covid infections and death totals. Some keep insisting that it is their constitutional right to refuse to comply. (Actually, that is a faulty reading of the Constitution.)
According to the Higher Education Chronicle, over 589 of America’s colleges and universities have already started sending out letters to students that vaccinations will be required for attendance this fall. Clearly, that is not all of the nearly 4,000 institutions listed by the Department of Education, but that is a substantial percentage of them. And more such messages are coming.
In fact, as soon as the FDA gives final approval to the three available vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna, and possibly with limitations, the Johnson and Johnson one-shot jab—there will be a major move across a lot of areas of the country to institute vaccination mandates. The FDA approval is expected very soon, (reportedly, August or September) and will replace the current Emergency Authorization for taking the vaccines, which does not have the same cachet.
With that FDA approval, public schools will receive a vaccine mandate, as has been issued in the past for polio, measles, etc.
Federal and state employees will receive a similar order—vaccinate or lose one’s job (unless with a medical exception). To quash the rampant COVID-19 variant now causing the sudden rise in cases and fatalities, it cannot and will not be left to personal choice and fancy. The government will step in and make the choice for us, as it has done before in such emergencies.
When the fate of the nation is at stake, government is supposed to step in and step up to do what’s necessary. That is part and parcel of American history. And that is virtually certain to be a history repeated in this case.
To protect and promote the public good, free choice is most often a mere vanity. Actually, the only real issues will be whether the Biden administration will have the guts to impose what needs to be mandated, and how much loss will the stubborn ones be willing to accept before they inevitably accede.
What is certain, however, is that vaccination mandates are certainly coming soon, so that 2022 will not be a repeat of 2020 and 2021. We must move on.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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