What the War on Terror Tells Us About Vaccine Mandates

Izzy Oberman

As the United States marks the twentieth anniversary of the war on terror, there is a new war dividing it: the war over COVID-19 vaccine mandates. As vaccine mandates grow, so does the American public’s resistance to them. This struggle has caused some to question what authority the government has to mandate vaccination. As Governor Ron DeSantis (R) of Florida stated, “We can either have a free society, or we can have a biomedical security state.” However, as shown by past Republican sentiments, supporters of America’s War on Terror acknowledge that security comes with giving up certain freedoms. So, why do vaccine mandates differ from transgressions on civil liberties when it comes to terrorism?

UCLA anesthesiologist Dr. Christopher B. Rake was removed from his office after being vocal about refusing to comply with the university’s vaccine mandate. He cited his “freedom” as one of the factors in his decision. However, this ignores the reality that Americans give up freedoms every day to make their country safer. What makes requiring vaccination different from prohibiting intoxicated driving? Both serve to protect people other than yourself, yet people are much more understanding of the latter law. 

Furthermore, vaccine mandates go all the way back to the founding of this country. During the Revolutionary War, President George Washington ordered his troops to be inoculated against smallpox. This notably controversial decision greatly contributed to the American colonists’ success against Great Britain. We can credit a vaccine mandate as being one of the first great accomplishments in U.S. history. Mandating vaccines for public health is not a new notion, but rising political tensions are getting in the way of prioritizing Americans’ health. American success is contingent on vaccine mandates, which will reinvigorate the economy and save thousands of lives. 

The fight over vaccination is not a political problem, but a public safety issue. People who refuse to see the benefits in releasing a minuscule amount of autonomy to protect others and themselves must acknowledge that the freedoms given up because of the War on Terror, like more stringent TSA rules, relate to mandates more than they lead on. You cannot have one or the other. You cannot pick and choose which liberties you are willing to give up for your country. That is how a country turns into chaos. Of course, we need to be cognizant and careful of what we are asking people to relinquish, but COVID-19 vaccine mandates are integral to the prosperity of Americans. 

We must adapt to our new, COVID-19 ridden world as we adapted to a post-9/11 world. To understand that our world will never be the same, but we can still make it better. It may take stricter implementations that in an ideal world would not exist but are sacrifices we must be willing to make for our country. Sacrifices that have been made since the American Revolution. 

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