Health experts are calling on the Biden government to do more to promote and encourage the use of vaccine mandates and passports.
So far, the White House has stayed out of what it sees as a problem for private employers.
The Biden government has repeatedly said that vaccine passports will not be introduced at the federal level, but has not stopped individual companies from making the personal decision to have a vaccination passport.
Officials have also shied away from using mandates with federal employees or the armed forces.
“If a company, a company wants to take steps to protect its employees and its passengers, I think that from the government’s point of view we want to do everything we can to promote this,” said Minister of Transport Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe White House Is Facing Demands To Accept Vaccination Passes LGBT Supporters Push Biden To Build On Early Victories Biden: “Pride Is Back In The White House” MORE said recently.
There’s no way to tell who’s and who’s not vaccinated without asking for proof, but the federal government hasn’t provided guidance or assistance to companies wanting to request proof of vaccination for customers and employees.
With the nation ready to miss it President BidenJoe BidenTrump meets Biden, Democrat on rally stage return to rally stage after the presidency Miami-Dade Mayor: 5 dead, 156 missing while Surfside search continues White House faces demands to get vaccine passports MOREExperts argue that increased support from mandates and passports could help increase backward vaccination rates’ July 4th goal of 70 percent immunization.
“The Biden administration shouldn’t be so squeamish about vaccine verification,” said Leana Wen, professor of public health at George Washington University and former Baltimore health commissioner.
Wen said the government should have endorsed a standardized verification system, calling it a “missed opportunity” to increase vaccine intake.
Some people may just be waiting for the right incentive, and a mandate can propel them in the right direction, she said.
“There are a lot of people in the middle. They’re not eager to get the vaccine, but they’re not anti-Vaxxers either. You need an extra boost. And that surge is still not there because we don’t ask for proof of vaccination to get back to normal, ”said Wen.
Surveys show that young adults in particular would be motivated to get vaccinated if this were necessary in certain cases.
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s vaccine tracker found that around 40 percent of young adults ages 18-29 would be vaccinated if it were necessary for large gatherings such as sporting events or concerts, airplane flights, or international travel.
According to Kaiser, the people who would only receive the vaccine if it were needed say mainly that they feel they don’t want or need the vaccine. They’re not against it, they just may not unless someone forces them to.
For employers, experts say, it is easier for certain industries to require vaccinations before others, especially in healthcare.
On the other hand, they also need to be prepared for the fallout, especially if a large part of the workforce refuses to be vaccinated. Larger companies will be better equipped for this than smaller ones.
The Houston Methodist, for example, quit or accepted the layoffs of 153 workers after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit over their mandatory vaccination policy. It was one of the first hospital systems in the country to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Amesh Adalja, a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said he expected more employers will require vaccinations once the vaccines are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Both Moderna and Pfizer have filed for full regulatory approval and a decision is expected later this summer.
“I think the government really needs to push the FDA to get full approval for these vaccines because I think that’s one thing that is holding back those mandates,” Adalja said.
Adalja also criticized the Biden administration for not having a standardized vaccine certificate or electronic app for companies or venues that want one.
“The idea of having some kind of vaccination card or a way to prove vaccination status should, in my opinion, be foreseen and thought through by the government … and a way to easily check this.” Instead of those flimsy cards they give you give ”, said Adalja.
However, the idea of mandates and vaccination passports is politically tense and there is concern that any comments from the White House could backfire, especially in the rural, conservative areas of the country, which have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Many Republican governors have banned mandates and passports in any form, including from private employers, and insist that vaccination is a personal choice.
In addition, well-funded anti-vaccination groups strive to challenge any type of vaccine need.
“Things get very political very quickly in the places we’re looking at,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.
“The states we’re talking about are the same states that were anti-mask, didn’t believe in the existence of COVID, had elected leaders who downplayed it in some situations and either closed too late or opened too early. And I think I just don’t have the confidence that even if they tried to hire it would turn out well. “
Benjamin said he thinks the inevitable complaints about vaccine mandates and passports aren’t worth the relatively small reward.
Instead, he said the government should double its soil campaign; try to convince individual holdouts to get vaccinated by promoting neighborhood events, employing trusted messengers in parish churches, and even sending people door-to-door.
“They will certainly bring more people on board, there is no doubt about that,” said Benjamin. But: “You will get such an enormous pushback. What if someone goes to court and the judge says no? Then it undermines all the effort. “