As Florida continues to be hit especially hard by coronavirus, the vice mayor of the city of Naples is requesting public feedback on a vaccine mandate.
Vaccines that could protect against coronavirus are being researched extensively and hurriedly right now, but there are a lot of questions surrounding their efficacy and safety. Many people who have recovered from the virus have antibodies that only offer protection for a limited time, which means a vaccine may not be effective for very long and could require multiple injections throughout the year. On top of that, the rush to market means that any vaccine that is released will not have undergone very much testing, particularly for long-term effects.
In light of all these concerns, the vice mayor of Naples, Terry Hutchison, has invited members of the community to share their thoughts about a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine. Some officials believe that the vaccines will have to be required because the number of people who are willing to get them may not be sufficient to provide “herd immunity” against the virus.
Florida Gulf Coast University Physician Assistant Program Director Robert Hawkes said: “Generally you need about 80 to 90 percent of the population to have immunity, in theory be vaccinated, in order to be protected against that, to therefore achieve what we call community immunity or herd immunity.”
However, it’s expected that nowhere near that number would willingly get the jab. An informal poll carried out by Fox 4 of more than 1,600 people found that 74 would not get the vaccine.
A broader survey carried out by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago revealed similar skepticism. It found that only half of Americans would be willing to receive the vaccine, while 20 percent would not and 31 percent were unsure. Those with the greatest risk of getting the virus seem to be the most skeptical. For example, although black people account for nearly 25 percent of American COVID-19 cases, 40 percent said they would not get a vaccine in the mid-May poll.
Divisions were also seen across age groups and political parties. Those aged 60 and older were more likely to say yes to getting a vaccine then those in the 18-to-59 age range at 67 versus 40 percent. Meanwhile, 62 percent of Democrats said they would get the vaccine, while just 43 percent of Republicans were willing to do so.
Vice Mayor Hutchison believes that this should be an individual choice. He said that he personally is not in favor of a vaccine mandate and would like to see each person make their own choice about the matter. He told Fox 4 News: “The more things we can leave to individual decisions, probably as a society, we’re better off.”
Hutchison is collecting opinions and plans to bring up the topic for discussion at an upcoming city council meeting. Although a vaccine could be months or even years away from becoming a reality, he believes that now is the time for people to start talking about what to do when it does hit the market.
It’s refreshing to see Vice Mayor Hutchison ask the people of Naples to share their opinion, but those living elsewhere shouldn’t forget that they, too, can contact their local representatives to express their feelings about a potential vaccine mandate.
Some experts have pointed out that even if a widespread mandate is not put in place, targeted mandates could be used to convince more people to get the vaccine. For example, people who work in healthcare institutions or the Armed Forces could be required to get the shot if they want to keep their position. We might also see students being required to get a shot before they can attend school.
Of course, it’s only natural that so many people are skeptical of a vaccine created under a project called Operation Warp Speed. If vaccines with decades of research behind them still injure and kill people, it’s scary to imagine what a rushed vaccine could do, especially if people are compelled to get one.
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