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COVID vaccine mandates are working

I know we keep reading about lawsuits and protest about COVID-19 vaccine mandates, but I think we (pro-science, pro-vaxxers) are too focused on the negative. Actual data is showing us that these mandates are working and they are substantially increasing vaccination rates.

There have been a ton of court rulings and public protests about COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss has written about a few of them, but she is barely keeping up with them. I’m on a mailing list from her, and I swear that it appears that there is a new lawsuit against these mandates every single day. And court rulings have been both positive and negative.

But, as I said above, there is good news. The mandates are actually working. So, let’s take a look at what we know.

COVID-19 vaccine mandates
Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on

COVID-19 vaccine mandates are working

According to an ABC News article, many organizations, like companies, are reporting that vaccination rates have jumped from less than 50% to over 90% when workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandates have been implemented. Where these mandates are really making a difference is to encourage employees who were “on the fence” to get the vaccine.

James Colgrove, a professor of public health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health told ABC News that:

In general, vaccine mandates work.

I know that a lot of people think that COVID-19 vaccine mandates are a new thing, but we have had these same mandates for school-age children for decades. Public schools have long required vaccines for measles, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, and many other diseases.

And those mandates worked. Polio is almost extinct. Measles was almost extinct until anti-vaxxers used the debunked claims about vaccines and autism. Epidemics that were part of childhood up until the late 1970s just don’t exist anymore.

Of course, there are vaccine mandates for healthcare workers. In fact, most medical and nursing schools in the USA require incoming students to be fully vaccinated with very few exemptions. In fact, I’d be unhappy with any healthcare worker who denied the settled science of vaccine safety and effectiveness just because they felt like it.

Regular companies in the USA, everything from grocery stores to airlines to meatpackers, are requiring their employees to be vaccinated. This isn’t because of some massive conspiracy that Big Pharma is paying these companies – it’s simple business tactics, they want to protect their employees and prevent worker shortages. If their employees are out sick, it’s hard to make profits.

COVID-19 vaccine mandates
Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. Photo by Amy Humphries on Unsplash

Some companies began to issue vaccine mandates this summer when the Delta variant caused a major increase in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Large companies, including Google, Tyson Foods, United Airlines, and the Walt Disney Company, required all employees that worked on-site to get one of the vaccines.

Predictably, the results from those mandates have been strong, ABC News reported.

For example, Tyson Foods announced a mandate in August, when less than half of its 140,000 employees were vaccinated. When the deadline came at the end of October, more than 60,000 additional employees had been vaccinated, and the vaccination rate was 96%.

And United Airlines has also stated that 99.7% of its 67,000 employees are vaccinated. Within 48 hours of announcing its mandate, the number of unvaccinated staffers fell from 593 to 320 people, ABC News reported.

United Airlines Jet. Photo by Miguel Ángel Sanz on Unsplash

Furthermore, the COVID-19 vaccine mandates appear to improve vaccine uptake in the public sector too. ABC News also reported that the percentage of public employees in Washington state who were vaccinated increased from 49% in September to 96% by the vaccine mandate deadline in October.

In New York City, where some employees have protested the mandate, vaccination rates went from 75% to 82% in the fire department, to 86% in the NYPD, and 91% among EMS personnel.

The point of all of this reporting is that, despite the noise and lawsuits that we are hearing from anti-vaxxers, COVID-19 vaccine mandates have been wildly successful. And this means that these people, who interact with the public every single day, will not be transmitting the disease to others.

Vaccine mandates are one of the keys to stopping this pandemic.

Michael Simpson
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