We’ve reached a critical point in the global battle to obliterate the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed about four million people, battered national economies, and upended lives on a monumental and frightening scale.
Hundreds of millions of people have done their duty and submitted to vaccinations. But far too many steadfastly refuse to get vaccinated, putting at risk themselves, their loved ones, and anyone else with whom they interact.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett alluded to this insidious problem recently. “One million Israelis are refusing to get vaccinated,” he said. “They are endangering the entire population, they are endangering the other eight million citizens in the country.”
This is a growing problem that has manifested itself on an international scale. With infections around the world rising due to lagging vaccination campaigns, lifted social restrictions, and the spread of the more deadly Delta variant, it is all the more imperative for the unvaccinated to face up to their responsibility and get their Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca jabs.
Due to these stubborn and selfish holdouts, only 49 percent of Americans and 56 percent of Canadians are fully vaccinated. The figure is much lower in most other countries.
Which means we’re all potentially in danger of contracting the contagion in breakthrough cases unless these short-sighted people come to their senses very soon.
As Michael T. Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said the other day, “The ongoing transmission of this virus is in fact largely due to the unvaccinated.”
The Delta variant is particularly worrisome, posing a real threat to children, seniors and people with weak immune systems. Dr. Rochelle Wallensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Washington, D.C., has warned it could even “outsmart us” if we don’t act resolutely.
We will not reach the safe haven of herd immunity unless the vast majority of eligible citizens are immunized as rapidly as possible. As Bennett said, “Every citizen over the age of 12 who doesn’t have a medical reason not to must go get vaccinated.”
Common sense dictates that vaccinations are absolutely essential in the prevention of yet more deaths and economically destructive lockdowns. Yet this argument leaves some stone cold. For one reason or another, upwards of one-third of the population in advanced nations do not want to be vaccinated. It’s a scary statistic that could impinge on our lives sooner rather than later.
Coercive measures may be necessary to bring these recalcitrants into line with what is best for society at large. Certainly, health care workers, including doctors and nurses, must submit to vaccinations or regular weekly tests. If they decline, they should look for new jobs. Incomprehensibly enough, a shocking proportion of hospital employees have yet to be vaccinated.
Thankfully, a number of jurisdictions in the United States have begun to crack down.
All 300,000 municipal employees in New York City and 246,000 state workers in California are now required to be vaccinated. Federal government employees may be next. And students at 400 colleges and universities must now be doubly vaccinated.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron has advised citizens they will not be admitted to movie theatres, cafes or restaurants as of August 1 unless they carry a “health pass” proving they have been fully vaccinated. Health workers who have not been immunized by September 15 will face a suspension of salary or even dismissal.
Germany is cracking down as well. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, has warned the unvaccinated they will be denied entry to public places, including sporting events and bars.
Corporations and private businesses must do their part to fight this once-in-a-century pandemic by requiring employees to be vaccinated on pain of termination.
We all yearn to return to normalcy and leave COVID-19 in the dust. But this objective will remain dangerously unrealized unless everybody cooperates and gets fully vaccinated.
It’s a no-brainer.