OPINION: COVID-19 vaccination should not be mandatory

Devon Martinez 

dmarti31@uccs.edu  

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by Martinez are his own. Martinez is not a certified health professional. This article should not be referenced for medical advice. Always consult a medical provider with questions regarding your health.  

     The vaccination debate is long and tiresome — and it is going nowhere. No one is changing anyone’s mind. But the vaccine mandate debate has room to grow; there is room for nuanced perspectives.  

     For example, there are vaccinated people who are anti-mandates, as there are people who have yet to be vaccinated but are pro-mandates.  

     Some people are against business mandates. Others are against government mandates. Some are against both, while others support all forms of mandates, including requiring vaccination passports for people to shop and travel.   

     I am against vaccine mandates, but I have no problem with the vaccine. Currently, I am struggling to find where I draw my line.  

     Before I take on the pro-mandate arguments, I will offer an olive branch to everyone pro: I believe you have good intentions with your beliefs. I don’t think you’re an authoritarian who doesn’t believe in body autonomy. We just have a disagreement. We are not enemies.  

     I believe in the autonomy of private businesses to make decisions on who they are allowed to hire and keep — this does not change with vaccinations. A business should be allowed to keep or fire based on an individual’s vaccination status. But with the intersection of government and business, I am struggling to believe if the decisions being made are based on reason and science or if they are profit motivated. 

     Can the government pressure a company that has contracts with them to force their employees to accept the jab? A government powerful enough to pressure companies into making decisions that affect thousands of people should worry anyone that is afraid of corporate power and believe in body autonomy. 

     Most experts agree that mandates would be effective for getting most people to take the vaccine. There is no question that vaccination mandates are effective for that reason. But where are the ethics?  

     Mandates are a use of force. And when this occurs, this normally means that the argument being made is not convincing enough. So, people in suits are going to use governmental violence to enforce their truth.  

     And it will do nothing to help people trust the government and make the decisions you want them to make. People will learn nothing from the mandate. There will just be more distrust of government and doctors.  

        Early into the COVID-19 virus, Anthony Fauci, along with several other U.S. health leaders, advised people to not wear masks. They later changed their tune and said that masks are important and needed. Fauci later said that he was concerned that there would not be enough protective equipment for health care workers.  

     Inconsistencies like this, even in the context of attempting to do the right thing, do nothing to help convince people of the severity of the virus. It also does not help when politicians like California Governor Gavin Newsom break their own COVID-19 restrictions. 

     This makes it tough for people to trust the government. And when they are not only pushing for a vaccine, but also for mandates, they should know that people have lost trust in them. And force is not going to build back the trust that was lost. People hate the feeling of being fooled.   

     George W. Bush made a great reference to being fooled over and over.  

     German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it the priority in her country to focus on education, not mandates. Merkel knows the severity of the situation, and she knows the risk of losing the public’s trust. She has argued that vaccine mandates will only make things worse. 

     “I think we can gain trust by advertising vaccination and also by letting as many people as possible become ambassadors for the vaccine from their own experience,” she said while defending her policy.  

     And her plan is working; there was no need to use the threat of force. Germany is headed in the right direction.  

     France has required vaccination passports for its people to have access to the cinema, restaurants and more. It is tough for people to look at the situation in France and support state-sponsored mandates and passports. The country’s decision has led to mistrust and several large protests.  

     When UCCS announced in April, in partnership with the CU System, that all faculty, staff and students were required to have COVID-19 vaccinations before the fall semester, I was both worried and interested to find out how the school would enforce this and about why the decision did not take into consideration students’ time.  

     It is tough for some students to plan to get a vaccine when the side effects from the vaccine cause discomfort and symptoms, sometimes for a couple of days. Missing a day of school is sometimes not an option and missing a day of work is a lot when rent is due on the first every month along with a slew of other bills (damn adulting and all its pain).  

     So, when all students received an email on July 7 to fill out the vaccination attestation form, I was shocked that students did not have to share their card to prove they are vaccinated. It was done by the students’ word. And people could choose to request an exemption for both medical and non-medical reasons.  

     It ended up not being forced. There are students walking around who are not vaccinated. They are still on campus. The school has used the attestation forms to see where the school is at in its goal to reach herd immunity.  

     In an already divided country, mandates will only make things worse. What we need is honesty and accountability. We need the people who have lied or not followed their own rules to admit their mistakes, move forward and speak to us with the sole intention of educating the public in an honest way.  

     Without it, we may fall deeper than we are. So, I will draw a line at any mandate that involves the state. Maybe in a week I will change my mind and be against all forms — again, the debate still has room to grow.