Dr. Kheriaty and I made different decisions about the COVID vaccination. I suffer from a chronic autoimmune disease and take immunosuppressant medications that increase the risk of upper respiratory infection. It made sense for me to get vaccinated, notwithstanding the medical unknowns and the vaccines’ link to fetal cell lines originally procured from aborted children. I have argued that a pro-lifer can, in good conscience, receive the vaccine. But to say that people may do so isn’t to say that they must, or should be forced to, do so.
Nor should people who reach a different judgment be fired, banned from restaurants or ostracized from polite society. I employ people with a diversity of views on the religious and moral acceptability of the vaccine, and would never dream of forcing any of them to violate their consciences on this. But the Biden administration, Big Business and many state governors think otherwise.
To be sure, I am not saying that vaccination mandates are categorically wrong. Vaccination has the potential not only to protect your own health, but to protect others—and to advance the common good in a variety of ways. But support or opposition for a specific vaccine mandate depends on the specific facts: What is the risk of death or other serious harms with and without the vaccine? Who is most at risk? How much natural immunity already exists, and how long will vaccine protection last? What are the vaccine’s side effects? Was the vaccine ethically produced? Are there other ways to reduce health risks? Are the mandate’s goals well-defined? Is the mandate lawful? Does it respect religious, moral and medical conscientious objectors? How much social strife will result? One must weigh the costs and the benefits, with the burden of proof on the party trying to coerce others.