Where does the right to personal choice end, and the burden of personal responsibility to protect your fellow beings begin? How far is someone willing to go to preserve the former at the expense of the latter? Rhode Island will find out in the coming
Where does the right to personal choice end, and the burden of personal responsibility to protect your fellow beings begin? How far is someone willing to go to preserve the former at the expense of the latter?
Rhode Island will find out in the coming weeks and months, as a statewide mandate requiring COVID vaccination of all health care workers – including firefighter EMTs – becomes effective on Friday. Many health care workers now face the simple decision of getting the shot, or losing their jobs.
It is interesting (but perhaps not surprising) that the COVID vaccine mandate has become such a politicized, hot potato issue that has generated lawsuits at the local and federal level. Health care workers who have direct contact with patients have long been required to show proof of vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), chickenpox, whooping cough and the flu, and these mandates have never generated any notable controversy or derision.
The logic behind requiring the COVID vaccine is exactly the same. Those who interact with patients – often medically fragile individuals with compromised immune systems, such as sick and elderly people – should take every precaution to prevent spreading a possibly fatal illness to those they are charged, ethically and legally, with trying to help.
Despite all the purposefully deceitful propaganda and fear-mongering surrounding the development and efficacy of the COVID vaccine, there exists zero legitimate, peer-reviewed scientific evidence that the vaccine is unsafe to all but a tiny minority of those who have a history of proven allergic reactions to vaccinations. Such individuals are not subject to the mandate, as should be the case.
Religious exemptions are more complicated. Legally speaking, the separation of church and state in this country is a blurred line at the best of times. What should take precedence during a global health crisis – the personally held religious beliefs of an individual, or the public welfare of a whole community?
It’s a challenging question, for sure, and one worthy of debate. But we must also wonder how many people applying for such exemptions are doing so not because they actually believe that labs using fetal tissue to test the vaccines during development violates their religious moral code – there are no fetal cells in the actual vaccines, despite nefarious attempts to say otherwise – but because they see it as the last tool available at their disposal to safeguard and support their vaccine hesitancy? We would guess that the majority of such exemption requests fall into that category.
The debate over vaccine mandates is just the most recent manifestation of the broader debate that has been raging since the first mask mandates started cropping up in states throughout the nation. It is a debate rooted deeply in a selfish sense of entitlement – where any attempts from the government to force someone to make a decision that contributes to the positive well being of somebody else is unabashed tyranny, and an affront to everything American.
What those still resistant to the vaccine fail to recognize, even as they risk literally losing their livelihood and source of income as a result of their stubbornness, is that this isn’t a tyrannical mandate. They still have the freedom of choice to exercise their right to not receive a vaccine.
However, as with every other American right, from free speech to the right to own a firearm, you are not free from the consequences of any decision you make while exercising that right. Some will learn that lesson, and hopefully learn from it, beginning on Friday.
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