Let's be clear. No one has to get the vaccine. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: "The federal government does not mandate (require) vaccination for people."

President Joe Biden did not change that policy when he announced stringent new regulations. Without a doubt, the rules strongly encourage — one could say "pressure" — vaccination for eligible Americans who haven't gone there. But no one is being forced.

Private-sector companies with more than 100 workers must require employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly tests to ensure they are not infected with COVID-19. The alternative of testing is plainly an "out" for those who don't want the shot.

Republican governors howling over what they call Biden's "vaccine mandate" routinely ignore this escape clause. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, for example, plays to the cheap seats when he accuses Biden of telling Americans, "Look, you can either get vaccinated or I, as one individual, is going to threaten your ability to feed your family," adding with a theatrical flourish, "And that's just wrong. That is just wrong."

Now, as one who has undergone both the tests and the vaccinations, I report that having a swab stuffed way up your nose is far less pleasant than getting the shots. But no matter: Workers have that option.

Whether a state or local government or employer can require or mandate a COVID-19 vaccination, the CDC says, "is a matter of state or other applicable law." Of course, no truly business-friendly state would deny private employers the ability to bar people who well might make their workers and customers very sick. Spreading pestilence would be bad for business.

And so Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey torments logic by calling Biden's new rules for businesses "exactly the kind of big government overreach we have tried so hard to prevent in Arizona." Wow. That comes after Ducey and his state's Republicans plumbed new depths of government control by confiscating the right of these same businesses to demand proof of vaccination.

A friend and I were recently turned away from a museum because, although we were both fully vaccinated, my companion didn't have proof of it with him. Behind us, an unvaccinated woman of color with a baby explained that she was planning, sometime, to get the shot. Her excuse got no further with the museum authorities than ours.

We did feel a momentary annoyance. "C'mon," we thought, "Let us in. This is all so new." But guess what? From then on, we were sure to carry our vaccine cards.

Politics played no part here. We are fairly liberal, and the woman following us didn't offer a partisan reason for not having gotten the shot. If this inconvenience, this curtailing of enjoyable activities, pushes people to get vaccinated, then great. That's the point of it.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain was skewered for calling the administration's new rules the "ultimate work-around" for a federal vaccine mandate. The tweet was foolish from a political standpoint, but the fact lives on that no one has to get the vaccine.

Some vaccine resisters are attempting their own workarounds by claiming religious exemptions. What they can get away with remains to be seen. United Airlines says it will place workers who get religious exemptions on unpaid leave until testing procedures are in place. They're not fooling around.

Those who won't get the quick jab in the arm, for whatever reason, have an alternative. If they want to keep their jobs, they might have to let someone push a 6-inch Q-tip-like swab up their nose on a regular basis, but — and repeat this for the last time — it's their choice.

Froma Harrop's column is syndicated by Creators. 

(14) comments


Third, Old Man, it is not a fiat. It is choice. Choose to get the shot or get tested to show you are not a threat to those around you.

Fourth, speaking of history, I am guessing you were not around during World War II when ration books issued by that evil government would have prevented you from the "liberty" of squandering our needed resources for your 8 MPG truck.


Funny you should cry about human rights and “your rights.” You post in favor of forcing government control over the healthcare of women. Golly, that kind of makes you a hypocrite doesn’t it?

Mr Incredible

I remember the good ol days, when liberals called health care a "human right". Unless, of course, you decide not to get vaccinated. I wonder what other unspoken caveats they put on "human rights"?


Now, it’s called triage.

Spock Here

I remember the good ol days when many republicans were not white nationalists and were fairly intelligent.


Sigh, Mr. Spock, Republicans were honest and decent back then. Now, they’re lying, sniveling, Trump Toadies so lost in a cult of lies I fear they’ll never find their way out.


It is not American to think you have the liberty to blow your spittle on anyone you choose. A friend of mine in WV said their local hospital is getting requests for open beds from as far as Texas and Oklahoma. As Forrest Gump said "stupid is as stupid does".


Mr. Western, If you drive a car, you have given up the “liberty” of flying through red lights at will, roaring down residential streets at whatever speed you want, or driving a rat trap that won’t pass a safety inspection. You pay taxes whether you like it or not.

We give up some of our personal “liberties” to live in community with others.

Stop your whining.

Old Western Man

First, if defending the individual from the molestation of government is whining, then I pray that my last breath is well spent whining.

Second, comparing the laws surrounding the privilege of driving a vehicle on public roads with a totalitarian vaccination fiat is extraordinarily juvenile and ignorant of history, but you do you.[rolleyes]


I was around during the polio epidemic. I remember classmates affected by that terrible disease. People knew what to do to protect themselves and their children. They had actual brain cells and didn’t follow lies, conspiracies, and childish nonsense like that.

You wish to become ill? Please don’t take up a bed needed for real patients. Dig deep in your fantasy world and see if Tinkerbell can cure you.

Traffic laws and vaccine mandates are passed to benefit all. Even the ignorant and uncooperative. This so called “privilege” to drive is actually you behaving, following the laws and dictates, and staying in your lane.


There it is: Rage against government mandates for the vaccine! However, on another post you are shrieking to force government control over the health care of women.

Would the real hypocritical Mr. Western please stand up.


Laws to control how you drive your vehicle and vaccines are meant to save lives. Even yours.

Old Western Man

It is quite stunning how so many who call themselves American, reject liberty. If you have determined that it is the best course of action for you to get the vaccine, then do so. If for a myriad off reasons you have determined not to receive the vaccine, then don't. If you support a government mandate, well... we know exactly who the closet armband wearers are.


Nope, we don’t reject liberty. We’re smart enough to understand what it takes for lots of people to live together. I have 100% liberty to be a decent person, follow the laws, pay my way, live in community with others, accept the results of an election even if my candidate loses which has happened to me several times in the 50 years I’ve voted, and to be around good honest people regardless of how our politics falls.

Yep, that is freedom. That is liberty. Like Trump, you and your so called “liberty” is about you and the selfish, self serving me me me. That’s actually, closer to anarchy.

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