Vaccine Mandates Do Work

Here’s one example from New York (boldface mine):

When New York State officials issued a sweeping coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers in August, they expressed confidence that it would pressure reluctant doctors, nurses and support staff to get the shot.

On Monday, as the deadline for vaccinations for about 600,000 nursing home and hospital workers arrived, it seemed that bet had proved to be at least partially correct.

With just days or even hours to spare, thousands of health care workers got inoculated, according to health officials across the state. And while thousands more workers remained unvaccinated, and thus in danger of being suspended or fired, the rush of last-minute vaccinations appeared to blunt the worst-case scenarios for staffing shortages that some institutions had feared.

In the New York City public hospital system, more than 8,000 workers were unvaccinated a week ago. But by Monday morning, that number had dropped to 5,000 — or just over 10 percent of the work force. Although those unvaccinated employees were not permitted to work, city officials said they felt they could manage the gaps.

In other hospital systems, most workers have decided to keep their jobs and get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, despite shrill bleatings from the state police union, only one officer–out of 1,800–has resigned.

There will be some people who will refuse, but we don’t need everyone to get vaccinated, just most people. And if governments passed vaccine requirements for non-essential activities, and the federal government tightened various regulations (e.g., lowered the workplace mandate to businesses with twenty workers instead of 100, required vaccination for air travel, made receipt of federal grant funding contingent on universities providing safe workplaces, etc.), we would see an increase in vaccination.

Regardless of where one stands on the efficacy of a third dose (I’m very cautiously very optimistic), no control strategy will work without increased vaccine uptake. And for the anti-anti-anti-vaccinationists, just because some people who endorse this belong to the Notorious PMC doesn’t make this wrong: there are very few things in life in which we should have more certainty than the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, especially given the dire downsides of not being vaccinated.

Of course, we might be waiting a long time for this, since Republicans seem to be COVID-19 sympathizers and too many Democrats are still scared of their own shadowns.

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