vaccine

In an article recently published by USA Today, three professors at Case Western Reserve University — two of whom are doctors — call for COVID vaccinations to be mandatory, with no allowance for religious objections. They also suggest that “disincentives” be imposed to ensure compliance, from the revocation of certain government benefits, to denial of service from private businesses and the inability to ride public transportation.

“[W]hile the measures that will be necessary to defeat the coronavirus will seem draconian, even anti-American to some, we believe that there is no alternative. Simply put, getting vaccinated is going to be our patriotic duty,” write Dr. Michael Lederman, Maxwell J. Mehlman and Dr. Stuart Youngner in a piece entitled “Defeat COVID-19 by requiring vaccination for all. It’s not un-American, it’s patriotic.”

Lederman is an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the school; Mehlman is a law professor and director of Case’s Law-Medicine Center; and Youngner is professor of bioethics and pyschiatry, with a focus on the issues of death, organ transplant ethics and end-of-life decision-making.

The men assert that when a vaccine is created and widely circulated, it will result in “herd immunity,” reducing the risk of infection for the public at large.

They state that the other option for herd immunity, waiting for enough people to become infected and then develop antibodies, is too dangerous of a concept. The professors point to the mortality rate in Sweden as an example, which has a higher deaths per capita rate than its neighbors.

Lederman, Mehlman and Youngner opine that to decline vaccination is to consequently put others’ lives at risk. They propose that vaccinations be free and easily accessible and that the only exemption be an adverse medical reaction to the injection.

“Do not honor religious objections. The major religions do not officially oppose vaccinations,” the article states. “Do not allow objections for personal preference [either], which violate the social contract.”

The men also put forward various “disincentives” that could be utilized as punishment for those who decline to receive a COVID vaccine, from being denied employment or service at a place of business for not being vaccinated to being unable to board public transportation.

“Vaccine refusers could lose tax credits or be denied nonessential government benefits. Health insurers could levy higher premiums for those who by refusing immunization place themselves and others at risk, as is the case for smokers,” they write.

“Private businesses could refuse to employ or serve unvaccinated individuals,” the professors further propose. “Schools could refuse to allow unimmunized children to attend classes. Public and commercial transit companies — airlines, trains and buses — could exclude refusers. Public and private auditoriums could require evidence of immunization for entry.”

They recommend that an immunization registry be put in place, though it is not clear whether such would be done by a healthcare network or the government, and that those vaccinated receive “expiration date-stamped certification cards.”

“These measures might seem draconian and would be costly, but ensuring universal vaccination is a negligible sacrifice compared with the costs, deaths and social upheaval that a sustained pandemic is having on our country,” Lederman, Mehlman and Youngner assert.

They point to the draft during World Wars I and II, noting that none were able to opt out and were rather subject for penalties for refusing to comply.

And while those who opposed the use of weapons for religious reasons were assigned to noncombatant roles, the professors simply end their composition with the statement: “There are no such alternatives for vaccination.”

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