The best policy for administering safe and effective vaccines during a pandemic is mandatory vaccinations, with perhaps some very narrowly drawn health and religious exemptions. If this is not practically possible, the second best alternative is to make denialists bear as close to the full cost of their misconduct as possible:
For months, institutions and companies have been drafting plans to aggressively promote vaccination or require it outright, and last week the FDA gave them license to click the “send” button. The same day the agency granted full approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, New York City’s public school system announced that its teachers and other employees will be required to get shots. The next day, Louisiana State University made a similar demand of its students and faculty. Within about 24 hours of the FDA move, other major employers, such as Chevron and Goldman Sachs, rolled out new vaccine mandates. In a novel twist, Delta Airlines announced that it would impose a $200-a-month health-insurance surcharge on unvaccinated employees. Regardless of the reasons for their hesitancy, unvaccinated employees will literally have to pay for it.
What all of these decisions show is that the adults running major institutions in our society want to move forward, and they are done waiting around for vaccine refusers to change their mind. Outside of executive suites and human-resources offices, plenty of other Americans are also craving more certainty. Bars and restaurants that want to stay open are beginning to check vaccination cards—at least in states where supposedly freedom-loving lawmakers haven’t forbidden private businesses from keeping their own customers and employees safe. Couples throwing weddings are demanding that their guests upload proof of vaccination. These people disinviting their anti-vaxxer relatives are saying something important: Getting a shot to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is both a social responsibility and the best way to hasten the end of the pandemic, and if you don’t believe that, we’re not waiting around for you to step up.
You want to live all alone in the desert, you want to be like Georgia O’Keefe, you want to live on the Upper East Side and never go out in the street — whatever. You want to participate in society get the vaccine. Vaccine mandates are a longstanding and great feature of American life. You no more have a “right” to not get vaccinated than I have a “right” to put rat poison in your Lime-A-Rita.