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The Willfully Unvaccinated Are About to See Their World Shrink

Rex Huppke, Tribune Content Agency on

I have bad news for the willfully unvaccinated: COVID-19 vaccine mandates are coming, and your world is about to shrink to the size of a tweet.

Vaccine mandates, with medical and religious exemptions, had been popping up at companies and universities even before the FDA granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine this week. But that announcement knocked down one of the anti-vaxxers’ main lame excuses — “It’s an experimental drug!” — and paved the way for corporations, venues, restaurants and schools to more comfortably require proof of vaccination.

Here’s how the playing field looks right now:

On the side of vaccine and as-needed mask mandates we have a majority of the public, science, the courts, overwhelming evidence of the death and sickness that comes when vaccines and masks aren’t mandated, profit-driven business decisions and a basic understanding of public health.

On the opposing side we have a loud minority of the public with a penchant for hoisting homemade “THIS IS A FREE COUNTRY!” signs while shouting ahistoric things about Nazis at school board meetings, and a wide array of Facebook misinformation that, if read even in part, is likely to kill more brain cells than huffing paint.

It’s not a fair fight, and the anti-mandate/pro-knucklehead side is about to lose, badly. I’d like to say I’m sorry, but I’m not. We’re here because of the screw-anyone-who-isn’t-me selfishness of folks who’ve fought against masks and vaccines and other simple public health tools, so I’ll happily water my begonias with their “WHAT ABOUT MY FREEDOM?!?!” tears.

 

On Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that all city workers must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. All Chicago Public Schools teachers and staff have to be vaccinated by the same date.

Chicago-based United Airlines is requiring employees to be vaccinated by late October, and has mandated that new hires be vaccinated since earlier this summer. Microsoft has a vaccine mandate. Amtrak is giving employees the choice of being fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 or taking a weekly COVID-19 test.

Delta Airlines announced Wednesday that its roughly 68,000 employees have to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and pay an extra $200/month for health insurance.

In a memo to employees, Delta CEO Ed Bastian wrote: “The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person. This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company. In recent weeks since the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant, all Delta employees who have been hospitalized with COVID were not fully vaccinated.”

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