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THE VIEW FROM HERE

Vaccines should end facemask mandates

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Anybody who wants the Covid-19 vaccine can now walk into any Walmart in the country without an appointment, an insurance card or a dime in their pocket and get a free shot.

In a very short period of time, the only people in the United States not vaccinated will be those who refuse to take the vaccine. That completely changes the equation on mandatory facemask laws.

Facemasks have served two purposes -- protecting others from us and protecting us from others. Now that so many of us are vaccinated, we no longer need that protection. If the only purpose of the mandate is to protect those who have the ability to protect themselves, but are unwilling to do so, that’s not reasonable or sustainable.

There are a million horror stories about the vaccine floating around on the Internet, but no good reasons not to take it. Not at this point.

Maybe a couple of months ago skepticism about the vaccine was warranted, but more than 52 million doses have now been administered. If it really did have a tiny chip that allowed Bill Gates to control our thoughts or monitor our movements, somebody would have proven that by now.

More importantly, when there was a valid, albeit one-in-a-million, concern about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine causing blood clots, it was temporarily taken off the market and now has a new warning.

A few weeks ago I wrote a column about the new marijuana law in which I argued that the government lacks both the right and the ability to tell me what I can eat, drink, smoke, snort or inject. The opposite is true as well. The government also lacks the right to tell me what I must inject into my body.

Mandatory vaccinations will never be an option. People who don’t want to get one don’t need to have a logical reason to refuse.

But the law shouldn’t support that decision. Vaccinated people should no longer be required to comply with public health orders that are no longer needed for their protection.

Health officials say that at least 70 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. So, the large number of people refusing to get the vaccine is going to be a problem for all of us in the long run.

In the short run, it’s an issue for employers and for anyone who owns a business where people crowd close together with strangers.

That conflict is playing out in county government, where a vaccine mandate for Sheriff’s officers, firefighters and detention center officers is being challenged in court. I’m not qualified to comment on the merits of those lawsuits, but if somebody I cared for was being held at the detention center, I’d want all of the officers there to be vaccinated.

As we reopen, some businesses, like cruise lines, may require proof of vaccination, for the health and safety of both their customers and their employees. There should be no government prohibition against business owners making that decision.

Nearly 4,000 people a day are dying in India because they can’t get the vaccine, yet governors in some states are turning back new shipments because there is no longer a demand for the vaccine here.

We should continue trying to inform, educate, cajole, encourage, shame, pressure and pester people to get the vaccination. But we should not allow those who refuse to hold all of us back.

Walter Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com

Walt Rubel