Vaccine mandates spark debate

Although 76.7% of Massachusetts residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of February 8th, opposition to COVID vaccine mandates still exists throughout the state. 

According to a poll conducted by Gallup on, of 2,730 surveyed US adults, 48% of the population believes that employers should require all employees to be vaccinated, while 38% believe that it should be illegal for companies to deny service/employment to the non-vaccinated.

“The basic premise of their [non-vaccinated people] argument is that a vaccine mandate is somehow an infringement of their control over their own body, and one of the lines of reasoning they use is that just as someone who is pro-choice says that they have sovereignty over their own body, and that’s their choice, that they have the same choice not to get a vaccine,” said Social Studies teacher Joseph Jourdain.

In Massachusetts, all healthcare workers had to get vaccinated by October 31, 2021, unless a medical condition prohibited them from doing so. In addition, state employees must now be fully vaccinated in order to work.  

No other state vaccination mandates exist, but there continue to be local vaccination requirements. In the city of Boston, proof of vaccination must be shown at restaurants, hotels, and other indoor venues. 

Jourdain, who supports mandated vaccines, said he has heard additional arguments against these regulations: scientists created the available vaccines remarkably quickly; in the past, vaccines had been unwillingly tested on people of color; and, prior to the COVID pandemic, most employers did not typically ask for an employee’s vaccination status. 

Across the country, people have protested against vaccine mandates. On December 14th, in New York City, anti-mandate protesters attempted to enter a Cheesecake Factory without providing the proof of vaccination that the city’s strict mandate requests. Seven were arrested for trespassing, but many of the men and women returned the next day. 

 On January 3rd, at the swearing in ceremony for Boston’s new city council members, groups such as the Boston First Responders United, protested shouting “Shame!”

Mountaineers said they can see the complexities of this situation.

“Although I am pro-vaccine, I understand why some people are wary of a government mandate. The right to privacy implied by the Constitution protects many facets of bodily autonomy: the right to an abortion, the right to use birth control, the right to refuse unwanted medical intrusions- why should vaccines be any different?” said senior Anna LaPrade. “The government should do everything it can to encourage vaccination, but forcing it will be seen as an overstep of power.”