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There is no “right” to engage with a captive audience while unvaccinated


Leana Wen and Sam Wang are excellent on why the idea that vaccination should be a matter of individual consumer preference is abject idiocy:

One in four American adults have yet to receive even one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. To explain the risk they pose to themselves and others, we propose an analogy: The choice to remain unvaccinated is equivalent to driving while intoxicated.

Some might balk at this comparison, but here are the similarities. Both causes of severe bodily harm are largely preventable — covid-19 through vaccination, and drunken driving by not driving after drinking alcohol. Both are individual decisions with societal consequences.

Both can cause substantial mortality, though deaths due to coronavirus far outstrip those due to drunken driving. About 10,000 people die per year in impaired-driving accidents in the United States, less than the number who died from covid-19 last week alone. More than 650,000 Americans have succumbed to the virus thus far, which is more than all recorded intoxication-related fatalities in the last 40 years combined.


If you decide to remain unvaccinated and are still going out, unmasked and unconstrained, to restaurants, gyms, bars and concerts, that no longer affects only you — similar to if you decide to get behind the wheel of a car while impaired. Your right to remain unvaccinated stops when you interact with those who did not choose to become exposed to a potentially deadly disease.

With the pandemic raging here, the United States should look to France, Israel, Italy and other countries that have instituted vaccination requirements in public settings. Awareness campaigns and stricter laws have reduced drunken-driving-related deaths by half. Analogous measures applied to the 80 million unvaccinated people in the United States can save many lives from covid-19 as well.

Saying there’s a “right” to go unvaccinated while engaging in public activities is like saying surgeons have the “right” to operate on you with the silverware they just used for dinner at Ruth’s Chris.

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