Biden Makes The Case For Vaccine Mandates

[ Posted Thursday, October 7th, 2021 – 15:13 UTC ]

The fastest and easiest way out of the COVID-19 pandemic -- and back to a fully-functioning economy -- is to get as many people as possible vaccinated. That was Joe Biden's message today, in a speech he gave promoting support for vaccine mandates. It was his strongest statement on the subject to date, and he tied it at every step to getting both daily life and the economy fully back to normal.

Biden's timing is pretty good, because many vaccine mandates which had been announced a month or so ago (back at the height of the Delta spike) are finally taking effect. People are getting fired because of their continuing refusal to get vaccinated. But, as Biden pointed out, while most of the news stories center around the few hundred who get fired, they mostly ignore the tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of people who not only keep their jobs, but can now do so more safely. Which was Biden's core message: vaccine mandates work. They save lives, in the end.

He didn't come right out and say it (although I wish he had, since it'd be a word nobody would be surprised to hear Joe Biden utter), but it's true nonetheless -- the time for mollycoddling the unvaccinated is now over. Now it's time to pay attention to the rest of us -- the ones who have been forced back into preventative measures because of the stubborn refusal of the few. We have rights too, and the right to a safe workplace is one of them.

Biden's speech was a prelude to the Labor Department announcing new rules and regulations to implement the policy Biden unveiled a while back: all private businesses in the country with 100 or more employees must mandate either vaccination or weekly testing for all their employees. Period.

He didn't even bother to point out that this wasn't a true vaccine mandate. There will still be an opt-out (in the actual federal rules) for those who still don't want to get vaccinated -- they'll just be required to be tested each week. That's pretty reasonable, actually. But Biden leaned in to actual vaccine mandates -- like the one he imposed on all federal workers, all healthcare workers, all currently-serving military members, and all teachers paid by the federal government. These mandates have no testing dodge at all. And Biden encouraged as many private companies to also implement strict vaccine requirements.

Due to the passage of time, Biden now has facts and figures to back up this encouragement. Companies are reporting compliance rates above 90 percent -- some above 95 percent. That is how we're going to get to true herd immunity and put this viral pandemic behind us for good.

Biden also noted that the percentage of adults who haven't even gotten their first shot is dropping -- it's now below 22 percent of the eligible public. The media made a huge deal when Biden missed his goal (by only a few percentage points) of 70 percent by Independence Day, but they've been ignoring this metric ever since. That figure is, as of today, 78.1 percent. Here's another way to put it, from Biden's speech: since July, the number of eligible unvaccinated Americans has dropped from 95 million to 67 million. That is solid progress.

Biden touted his progress on just about every front since the last speech he gave on the subject (when he initially announced the federal vaccine mandate, and that the private employer mandate would soon follow). Things have gotten better, and now (thankfully) Delta is receding. We're down to less than two-thirds the height of the Delta spike in new cases, and the number is dropping fast.

But we've been here before. Delta could fade and then some other mutation could run rampant. The only way to head this off at the pass is to get so many people vaccinated before it does happen that the new strain wouldn't be able to get any sort of foothold in this country.

Three things are going to help. The first is that the other two companies with COVID-19 vaccines will soon get approval for their booster shots. This should drastically lessen the possibility of "breakthrough cases" in people who have been vaccinated.

The second is the anticipated approval (expected next week) of a vaccine regimen for children ages 5 through 11. When this happens, all K-12 schoolchildren will be eligible to get their shots. This adds a newly-eligible population of tens of millions of kids, which will boost the overall public vaccination rate.

The third follows from the second. More and more school districts are going to start flat-out requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all students. This will push parents to get the shots into their kids' arms. If it's a choice between getting them vaccinated or having to homeschool them, that's going to motivate most parents to schedule time to get the kids their shots.

As Biden pointed out today, the political and social stance that vaccinations are somehow bad or even suspicious is centered solely on COVID-19. All kids already have to get vaccinated for polio, mumps, measles, rubella, and other deadly and crippling diseases before the child can be enrolled. So why should COVID be any different?

Biden reminded everyone of the hope we all felt at the beginning of the summer -- when the economy was roaring back, the mask mandates disappeared, and more and more people breathed a sigh of relief that the end was in sight. We can get back there, Biden said today, but the only way we'll stay on that course this time (instead of being taken aback by a new spike) is to get as many people as possible vaccinated -- and vaccine mandates are the best tool to make that happen.

Biden still didn't take one big step that some Democrats have been stridently urging -- banning unvaccinated people from air travel. That would be a vaccine mandate that might have the most far-reaching effect, especially right before the holiday travel season. But to do that -- and to allow time enough to either change travel plans or get fully vaccinated -- Biden would pretty much have had to announce it right now (since Thanksgiving is really just around the corner). He didn't do so, which means any vaccine mandate for travellers will likely not happen until at least early next year.

But even without taking that step, the new rules for private businesses will likely be a game-changer. Sure, there will be some companies (and states, even) willing to take the matter to court, and there will be stubborn holdouts who insist on getting tested each week -- but the majority of people are going to soon discover that it's a whole lot easier to just get the shots and never have to worry about getting tested again.

Biden's speech could be boiled down to two bumpersticker-sized slogans: "Vaccine mandates work," and: "Let's finish the job." The majority of the public agrees. Most of us just want this whole thing to be over as soon as possible, and are tired of mollycoddling those who seem to bizarrely want to keep the pandemic going on for as long as possible. Hopefully the threat of losing a paycheck will convince enough of the unvaccinated that it's time to get the shots for the rest of us to finally feel safe once again. As we finally emerge from the fourth wave of the pandemic, this is the best way to assure that there just is no fifth wave.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


22 Comments on “Biden Makes The Case For Vaccine Mandates”

  1. [1] 
    MyVoice wrote:

    Harrumph. This is really going to set off the folks who think their behavior should always be without negative personal consequence.

  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Yep, and bleep them.

    "Enough is too much!"
    my middle school Art teacher Mama Meldrum used to say. Usually when we were acting up, I recall. Ahem.

    Elizabeth, I again have to wonder if Joe, while playing mere one dimensional chess (Politics Edition) is playing it rather nicely, slowly tightening the screws on these idiots as far as the body politic can tolerate.

    Alas, thanks to right-wing media Murica ain't ready for a travel mandate quite yet. 'Tis a pity about the folks who are about to die from holiday travel, and I hope that the lives lost now will mean less lives lost later.

    BTW, for many reasons we're never going to get Covid fully behind us, ever. I look at it this way:

    This is the new reality, period. I've got my Big Boy pants on and I'm all grown up. Now, they call it a "booster shot"** but what I call it is simply "a life-or-death flu shot, taken just as often as needed shot." Just a fact of life, no biggie.


    **In England it's spelled,

    "Bourchestershire shot"

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    People are saying.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey, my Caddy ... just saw the new Bond film this past evening ... it was not disappointing ...

  5. [5] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    ... it was not disappointing.

    Hmm.. Sterling, nay, powerful endorsement there, my Dear. Makes me smart to just run out and see it.

  6. [6] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    (bleeping auto correct)

  7. [7] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    JK. When it comes to Bond there ain't no bad. Sean is my fave, who's yours?

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    My fave is Daniel Craig, Casino Royale my all time fave and Goldfinger, my all time fave theme song.

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Here's a little ditty from Keith Olbermann.


  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:
  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:
  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Spectre is dead!

  13. [13] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    David Niven was the best Bond.

    Daniel Craig looks like he should be the villan, not Bond.

  14. [14] 
    TheStig wrote:

    The COVID epidemic finally seems to be waning:

    Now we can turn our attention to the fascism epidemic spreading thru the Republican Party. This disease is spread by rampant ass kissing.

  15. [15] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    The rampant ass-kissing is not limited to Republikillers.

    The Deathocrats also kiss the asses of the big money interests.

    Now we can turn attention to what Ralph Nader mentioned on his Radio Hour about 24-25 minutes in on the "Strip Mining Democracy" episode and my comment on the Radio Hour website on that episode.

    Republikiller fascism is merely one symptom of that disease.


  16. [16] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Mtn Caddy (1)-
    Ignoring the disease that is big money infecting our political process is people that mistakenly think their behavior of supporting big money politicians is not only without personal consequences- it also has consequences for the rest of us.


  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Not THAT Casino Royale, Don! Hehehehhehehehe

  18. [18] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    THAT Casino Royale is still the best Bond Movie with the best Bond.

    The rest are just average run of the mill formula films.

    Did you check out the Ralph Nader Radio Hour "Strip Mining Democracy" about 24-25 minutes in?

  19. [19] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    I was following a thread about Yang's Forward party on Hacker News. From the posts of both supposed followers and campaign volunteers, I do not have high hopes. First off, the Forward party is currently a PAC not a party and it sounds like it may never make the transition. Complaints about Yang were his inner circle acted a bit like a cult in that they treated those below them quite poorly and squandered opportunities often. Also from his New York Mayor run he was rapidly becoming a standard politician before even holding his first office...

    But beyond that, without an amendment to the constitution, we are likely to never have more than two dominate parties. If you don't get the magic 270 electoral votes, it goes to the house who decides by one vote per state. Currently that means any third party that can get a sizable minority share of the electoral vote pretty much guarantees a republican president.

  20. [20] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    I agree that there is little promise for the Forward Party. It seems more like something to keep Yang's supporters from joining the Green or People's Party and/or give Yang something to do other than run for office.

    While more than two parties are needed, it would be a pleasant change to have at least two parties instead of the one big money party we have now that is pretending to be two parties.

    Electoral votes are only for president. It is possible without any constitutional amendment to elect any candidate from any or no party to any other office.

    It is possible for any state to change how their electoral votes are awarded without a constitutional amendment.

    It is possible to replace enough Deathocrats and Republikillers in the house to not guarantee a Republikiller or a Deathocrat president should an election for president go to the house without a constitutional amendment.

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You'll have to give me a link, Don ...

  22. [22] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    And here's a heartening clip from Glenn Kirshner* about Repug Gerrymandering and suppressing the vote are losing strategies, perhaps existentially so. (5:13)

    And this from Christo Axialis,
    regarding Trumpworld figures in-fighting. What happens to Trumpism after Trump exits, stage right? (4:08)

    *H/O to Elizabeth-- I check in every day.

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