Apr 2021

Let's Talk: Should the COVID Vaccine be Mandatory?

Scroll to read more

Let's Talk: Should the COVID Vaccine be Mandatory?

Here at The Conversationalist, we believe in providing a platform where every voice is heard and every perspective is respected. Every Monday at 9 p.m. EST in our Geneva community, we host And We’re LIVE!—where we discuss a current event or trending topic. For this week’s discussion, we focused our conversation on the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of April 19th, the COVID-19 vaccine is available to all United States residents 16 and older. As the rollout expands, so does the debate on whether or not the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandated. Many scientists argue that widespread vaccination compliance is crucial for achieving herd immunity, ultimately curbing the spread of the virus and avoiding lethal outcomes. However, many people are hesitant to get the vaccine because of potential long-term side effects, distrust of the institutions endorsing it, or lack of access. Others feel they don’t need it due to their health. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is a complicated topic. Some people received the vaccine without hesitation, while others are on the fence about getting it. Finally, some people are firm in their stance of not getting it at all. Getting any vaccine is a personal choice, but it can also impact a community, especially in the context of the pandemic. To break out of our echo chambers and build a more unified world, it’s essential to consider every perspective so we can come together and build a healthier and safer future that works for everyone. 

This week, our community shared their thoughts on what they’d like to do once the world fully reopens, their personal decision to get the vaccine or not, and whether or not they think the vaccine should be mandatory. They also came up with solutions for navigating conversations about the vaccines beyond the TC community and shared hopes for a brighter future. 

Here are some perspectives to consider:

1. It’s important to consider how we can educate each other about the vaccine’s risks and benefits:

In a pandemic, personal choices have public implications. It’s important to understand to listen to people who want and don’t want the vaccine, so we make the right choice for ourselves and our communities. We can also work together to find solutions that will make everyone feel safe and respected. For example, one TC community member on Instagram suggested that vaccine education should be mandatory in schools to make informed decisions in the future. 

2. For many, the vaccine is trustworthy, and the potential consequences of COVID-19 outweigh the risks of the vaccine:

Many TC’ers pointed out that they trusted the science behind the vaccines and the dangers of contracting COVID-19 were worth getting the vaccine, even if some long-term effects haven’t been studied yet. While studies have shown that all three FDA emergency approved vaccines are safe and effective, they are new, meaning there isn’t data on their long-term side effects. For some people, this is dissuading them from getting the vaccine. 

3. The vaccine is a chance to get our normal lives back:

Over the past year, we’ve missed out on many things that make life more exciting, including trips, hanging out with friends, and even going to school. However, for some community members, the idea of returning to “normal” more quickly is enticing and worth getting the vaccine.

4. Some members felt that the vaccine should be mandatory for entering schools and other spaces. Others pointed out that might not be feasible or moral:

Over the past weeks, some colleges and universities have announced plans to make the COVID vaccine mandatory for students returning in the fall. These decisions have led to discourse about the ethics of mandating the COVID vaccine. Some people pointed out that being vaccinated is important for contributing to public safety and other vaccinations are mandatory for being in environments such as a school.

Others feel that mandating vaccines is a violation of personal liberties and bodily autonomy. Plus, the COVID vaccinations aren’t officially FDA approved, and some TC’ers pointed that this could mean requiring them might be complicated. Some users pointed out that the government should focus on incentivizing the vaccine as opposed to mandating it.

5. Vaccine access is an integral part of the equation:

Getting a vaccine isn’t easy for everyone. It usually requires internet access and the time and resources to get to an appointment. So it’s important to talk about how we can make the vaccine accessible to everyone, regardless of factors such as age, race, employment, and socio-economic conditions.

6. Rollout looks different in various parts of the world:

In the United States, anyone over the age of 16 can get the vaccine. People in many other countries don’t have the privilege to make this choice yet. While the course of the pandemic in the United States might be turning a corner, some countries are experiencing conditions that are worse than ever. 

7. Distrust in the medical system and government is keeping some from getting the vaccine:

“I think many Black people are wary about the vaccine because of the Tuskegee experiment and because they’re promoting it to Black people too much to the point that a lot of people think it’s just weird or suspicious,” wrote an anonymous TC community member. 

8. Whatever “normal” might look like, here’s to a better future ahead:

Thanks to all of our Conversationalists for sharing their points of view with us. Let’s keep the conversation going! How can we talk about the COVID vaccine with our family, friends, and peers in other spaces? How can we balance public health and bodily autonomy? Join us in Geneva and follow The Conversationalist on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok to share your thoughts and stay up to date with all of our future events.