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We need more vaccination mandates


This is great:

The University of California and California State University announced Thursday that they will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff on campus properties this fall once the Food and Drug Administration gives formal approval to the vaccines and supplies are sufficiently available.

The directive is the largest of its kind in U.S. higher education, affecting more than 1 million members of the two public university systems. More than five dozen colleges nationwide have already announced they will require vaccination for enrollment this fall, including Yale, Princeton, Columbia and, in Claremont, Pomona and Claremont McKenna.

But UC and Cal State have not yet taken that step because of questions over the legality of requiring vaccines before they have been formally approved by the FDA. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are being distributed under emergency-use authorization, although health experts expect full approval of at least one of them by the fall. The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine is on pause due to concerns about blood clots.

As with other mandatory shots for measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox, the COVID-19 directive would allow for students or employees to seek an exemption based on medical or religious grounds.

Vaccine requirements are more practical in some contexts than others, but contexts (like many universities and colleges, my own included) where proof of some vaccinations are already required, at least as soon as vaccines are universally available, should be a no-brainer.

As we consider how to overcome vaccine reluctance, one thing we should be clear-eyed about is that it’s absolutely delusional to think that strong COVID mitigation measures will be in place in most of the US in the fall. Much of the country is already a free-for-all, and even more liberal jurisdictions have indoor dining with loosely enforced capacity restrictions, and things are not going to move in the direction of tighter regulation. I don’t approve of all of this — if I were in charge there would be no indoor dining before either herd immunity or a reasonably reliable way of verifying vaccine status — but it’s moot. Lots of people will be having Christmas celebrations indoors in bars and restaurants and homes they don’t live in. Whether this will involve lots of unnecessary death or not will depend on how quickly a critical mass of the population can be vaccinated. This needs to be the overwhelming focus of people involved in public health right now. And where they’re practical vaccination requirements are excellent policy.

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