Editorial: Private-sector vaccine requirements are effective step in pandemic fight

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

It’s disheartening that so few Hoosiers have chosen to get a COVID-19 vaccine that data shows prevents serious illness and death, even among those people diagnosed with a so-called breakthrough case of coronavirus.

A bit less than 50% of Hoosiers have been fully vaccinated, which ranks Indiana in the bottom third of all states.

It’s easy to think that’s a personal decision with little impact on others—but in so many ways, it’s not. Let’s consider one: The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is rising quickly.

The Indiana State Department of Health said COVID hospitalizations increased to 1,616 on Tuesday, the highest number since Feb. 1, when 1,624 people were hospitalized with the virus. The number was fewer than 500 a month ago. The state said 18.5% of Indiana’s intensive care unit beds are occupied by COVID patients.

Those numbers don’t create an emergency, but they are trending toward one. And that’s a problem for everyone. One of the scariest things about spring 2020, as COVID barreled into Indiana, is that hospitals and ICUs were overrun with patients. They were running out of space and personal protective equipment, and more important, doctors, nurses and support staff were run ragged, barely able to keep up with the demand for care.

That is not a situation we want to return to—and it appears we, collectively, have the ability to avoid it with vaccinations.

Still, we would stop short of calling for government-mandated vaccines—something we’re unlikely to see in Indiana regardless. And we don’t believe the city should follow the likes of San Francisco and New York City by requiring residents to be vaccinated to eat in restaurants or work out at gyms.

We support letting companies make those calls—and kudos to those that are doing so. We appreciate the steps companies across Indiana—and the nation—have taken to require employees to be vaccinated.

In some cases, companies are requiring all workers to be vaccinated. Others are requiring vaccines only for workers to return to the office, or they’re allowing those who opt not to be vaccinated to be tested for COVID daily. We support all those approaches.

In addition, some universities, entertainment venues, fitness centers and other retail establishments are now requiring vaccines or negative tests to enter or participate. We support that, too.

We think the fastest way to persuade more Americans to become vaccinated is to make it inconvenient and troublesome to be unvaccinated.

Of course, we’ve heard the complaints from some who are resisting the vaccine that mandates from employers or other private businesses are violating their rights. We disagree. Where or even whether you work, eat dinner or see a concert is a choice. Government isn’t mandating that you do any of those things; therefore, you can opt not to be mandated to get a vaccine.

But we think most people will choose to become vaccinated—and that’s good for all of us.•


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