VOICES: Vaccines mandates are constitutional and support the common good

Vaccine mandates are aligned with our nation’s founding documents, laws, and history. They are necessary for our country to continue to provide the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Americans should get vaccinated for the common good of our nation and the world.

Our country is more than a collection of independent men living free to do whatever they want without regard to their fellow Americans. We live in an interconnected society and must live and work together to promote the general welfare as mandated in the preamble to our Constitution.

Throughout history, our nation has come together in times of adversity to meet the challenges of our enemies. We are now fighting a war against a cunning enemy – COVID-19 – and everyone is potentially on the front lines. More than 660,000 Americans have already died and we need to utilize all available resources and weapons to win the war. Vaccines are necessary and available to reduce risk and sustain life; and life is necessary to have liberty and pursue happiness.

Vaccine mandates and imposed regulations have helped sustain our country and are part of our tradition and history.

In 1777, before we were a formal country, and while we were fighting for our freedom, the leader of the Continental Army, General George Washington ordered his troops to be inoculated against smallpox. That inoculation was even riskier and less tested than our current vaccines, it was implemented to reduce the potential for infections from a known fatal disease and allow the troops to fight for liberty.

Vaccine mandates have existed in this country since the 1850s and are part of established precedent and law. More than 100 years ago, a 50-year-old minister in Massachusetts, Henning Jacobson, refused to get a smallpox vaccine because he said it violated his liberty; in 1905, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the government has the power to mandate vaccines because one man’s liberty cannot deprive others of their lives and liberty by allowing a deadly disease to spread when there are available vaccines.

ExploreFollow our latest COVID-19 coverage.

Our democratically elected government imposes many types of mandates and rules that restrict and require certain behavior. During times of war, young men have been drafted to serve in the military; the government determined that a draft was needed to fight enemies that threatened our way of life; most draftees did not complain about putting put their lives on the line as an infringement of their liberty. They did their duty and sacrificed their liberty to keep us safe. Getting a vaccine is a small sacrifice compared to the price that many paid in previously mandated service for our country.

Schools require vaccines for students. It is part of everyone doing their part to live in a healthy society and free of the fear of previously deadly childhood diseases.

Throughout our country, laws and mandates prevent behaviors that negatively impact others so that people can live their lives without fear of preventable hazards and risks. People are not free to drink and drive; it is an unacceptable and preventable risk that society is not willing to accept. Industries and private citizens are not free to pollute or dump waste on their own land if it will adversely affect their neighbors.

Reasonable rules are needed to live in a well-ordered society. America should work together and implement all measures necessary to defeat COVID-19. Vaccine mandates are one of the best and most reliable weapons now available and should be used.

Vaccine mandates for the right to live, work, and play in our country are prudent and justifiable; they are not undue burdens. They are consistent with our nation’s history of shared sacrifice and to do whatever it takes for the health and safety of the general public. Without mandates, the unvaccinated may continue to utilize a large part of our current hospital capacity, adversely impact the capability of our medical system to respond to other healthcare issues, drain our economy, and restrict the lives and liberty others. Vaccine mandates are necessary to allow Americans to have the freedom to live their lives

Even without mandates, Americans should follow the traditions of previous generations and do their patriotic duty, and get vaccinated.

ExploreRead a constitutional argument against vaccine mandates.

Tony Klimek is a practicing civil engineer and an active member of his community in West Chester.

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