The GOP is losing its war on vaccine requirements


Most Americans want them.

Across the country, Republican lawmakers have railed against COVID-19 vaccination requirements — even for hospitals, schools, and the military. But a series of recent polls shows the American public disagrees with the GOP and wants vaccination to be mandatory for many.

A poll by The Economist/YouGov, published Wednesday, asked 1,500 adult U.S. citizens whether vaccines should be required for certain groups. A decisive majority said yes for each category, including for police officers (60% in favor, 25% against), the military (59%-24%), college students (55%-27%), teachers (61%-24%), medical providers (65%-21%), and federal employees (56%-26%).  By a 51% to 30% margin, they even said vaccines should be required for K-12 school students,  once they are eligible to get them. The COVID-19 inoculations are currently approved only for people ages 12 and up.

A Gallup survey of a panel of American workers — also released Wednesday — found 52% would back their own employer requiring coronavirus vaccinations for all employees who have no medical exemption, while 38% opposed. In June, Gallup research showed 49% supported them, while 37% opposed, and in May, 46% supported and 39% opposed.

Axios/Ipsos also released a survey this week in which adult workers were asked if they'd back their employer requiring all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19: 56% supported, 44% opposed.

Earlier this month, the Kaiser Family Foundation released another poll finding 51% of U.S. adults want the federal government to "recommend that employers require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine unless they have a medical exception," while 45% did not want such a federal encouragement.

State surveys also have shown strong support for vaccine requirements.

A CBS News/YouGov poll of Californians on Monday found 67% support for businesses mandating immunizations for their employees and 33% opposition. A Florida Atlantic University poll found residents there backed requiring vaccines for universities' students (67%-29%) and businesses' employees (65%-30%).

But despite this widespread support for vaccination requirements, Republican lawmakers are continuing to try to prohibit them.

Last Wednesday, North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn tweeted, "Don't be fooled—every COVID mandate is about POWER, not public safety." And on Thursday, Rep. Beth Van Duyne of Texas said that vaccine mandates are "socialism."

Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter and 15 other House Republicans sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Aug. 6 to demand the military scrap plans to require service members to get vaccinated. "Threatening our troops with retaliation if they aren't ready to get vaccinated yet does nothing to address their concerns. This should be a conversation, not an order," Carter argued.

Several House Republicans complained this week about a New York City requirement that people get vaccinated before entering indoor restaurants, bars, museums, gyms, and entertainment venues.

New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis endorsed a legal challenge to stop the "vaccine passport mandate" on Tuesday. Rep. Lee Zeldin, also of New York, claimed the rule was "wrong, trampling rights of NYers, & harming struggling businesses now required to turn away good paying customers," and an "infringement on individual liberties."

Texas Rep. Lance Gooden even suggested it was racist, because "28% of Black New Yorkers are vaccinated. 48% of Latino New Yorkers are vaccinated. New York's vaccine mandate will DENY a majority of minorities from being able to work, go to restaurants, gyms, and theaters!"

With the delta variant now dominant, COVID-19 cases have spiked in recent weeks to their highest levels since February. More than 130,000 Americans are testing positive daily, on average.

Along with soaring cases, hospitalizations have also been climbing, especially among unvaccinated people.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.