Americans try to give wide berth to those who hold beliefs about personal choices that differ from their own. That’s why there’s been tolerance to those opposed to vaccinations, particularly the COVID-19 vaccine.
Early on some of those hesitant to get vaccinated worried about whether the vaccine was truly safe. That was a reasonable concern. But after 190 million Americans have been vaccinated and the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine have been fully proven, those concerns evaporated.
Some then used the excuse that the vaccine has not been fully approved by the FDA, but was only being used under emergency authorization. That argument ends in the coming weeks as the agency gives its full approval.
But most of the remaining anti-vax movement is based on bizarre misinformation spread on social media and because of a bewildering political view that it is somehow anti-conservative to get vaccinated. That idea has been exploited by many conservative politicians who seem to view improving vaccination rates as handing a political victory to President Joe Biden. And they claim that standing against mask mandates and proof of vaccinations shows support for businesses.
That concept is on full display in Florida, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has banned cruise lines and other businesses from requiring customers show proof of vaccination. He’s also ordered that schools cannot close or impose any restrictions, including requiring mask wearing by students.
DeSantis’ reckless behavior has only brought more damage to the business community he purports to support as the state has become one of the very top hotspots for outbreaks and hospitalizations from the COVID delta variant. The only proven way to ensure businesses can fully open, regain employees and maintain profitability is to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
DeSantis’ ban on “vaccine passports” likewise runs counter to the longtime Republican conviction that government should not be telling private businesses what to do. Last weekend a U.S. district judge issued a temporary injunction against the law banning vaccine passports. The judge agreed with Norwegian Cruise Lines, which said the ban jeopardized public health and violated the cruise line’s constitutional rights.
Meanwhile, the business community conservatives purport to support is rejecting the lunacy peddled by too many GOP leaders and increasingly requiring their employees be vaccinated and that customers show proof of vaccination or be tested. Mask mandates, too, are returning in many places.
About 57% of all Americans have done what they know is right and have been vaccinated. While they did what was asked, the anti-vaxxers and their political enablers are threatening to upend the goal of finally putting the pandemic behind us.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy last week perhaps best summarizes the best response to the hardline anti-vax crowd. During a press conference he was confronted with a group of anti-vaccine protesters.
His response: “They’ve lost their minds.”