Editor’s note: This piece is republished with permission from Foundation for Economic Education.
Early in the pandemic, before vaccines were available, my uncle got COVID-19 and unknowingly passed it to my aunt. She was at high risk, trailing a small oxygen tank behind her wherever she went, and the disease quickly took its toll. She died within days.
I got vaccinated as soon as I could, not only to protect myself but primarily to protect my at-risk family members and friends. I have encouraged several friends and family members to get vaccinated. Doctors I know say it’s only a matter of time before every person encounters COVID-19. So the question is: When you do, do you want the best protection available or not?
I understand the appeal of government vaccine mandates. But even if getting vaccinated is a no-brainer for most of us, does government have any legitimate authority to mandate COVID vaccination—or to force private companies to require their employees to get vaccinated?
The question is not whether businesses may choose to require their employees to get vaccinated. They certainly have the right to stipulate the conditions under which they’ll employ people, as does the government insofar as it acts as an employer. Further, businesses ought to carefully consider the nature of their work, the risks to their employees and customers, their customers’ demands, and more to decide on proper safety measures—especially businesses in the health care sector.
But the real question is: Can our elected officials legitimately force people to get vaccinated—or force employers to mandate vaccination? Many say yes. . . .