Top U.S. Health Official Calls For More Vaccine Mandates: ‘People Are Dying’

by Joseph K. Clark

On Sunday, a top U.S. health official called for additional vaccine mandates nationwide, pointing to the surge of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” that the mandates would make a difference in the fight against COVID-19, despite grumblings from Republicans and far-right activists who claim such measures infringe on their rights.

Collins said the government “ought to use every public health tool that we can when people are dying” when asked if it was time for more vaccine mandates.

“That’s a hot topic,” Collins said. “For me, as a non-political person, physician, and scientist, the compelling case for vaccines for everybody is right there in front of you. Just look at the data.”

“And certainly, I celebrate when I see businesses deciding that they’re going to mandate that for their employees,” he continued. “Death rates are starting again. … We ought to be thinking of every possible intervention.”

.@gstephanopoulos: “Is it time for more vaccine mandates?” @NIHDirector Dr. Francis Collins: “Yeah, I think we ought to use every public health tool we can when people die.”


— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 8, 2021

As some health officials originally predicted, just over half of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated as of Sunday ― a far cry from the 60 to 70% of the population needed to reach herd immunity. Given some communities ‘ vaccine hesitancy, scientists have begun shifting their thinking on the matter, saying that herd immunity in the U.S. is impossible.

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the country, particularly in the South, at least 16 states have banned vaccine mandates in some form. Most of those policies only apply to state and local governments, meaning private schools and employers can still implement directives.

Many major companies, including Netflix, Walmart, and Microsoft, have implemented employee vaccine requirements. Though several teachers’ unions have spoken out against vaccine mandates, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s most prominent teachers’ union, called for such appointments during an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“As a matter of personal conscience, we need to be working with employers on vaccine mandates,” Weingarten said. Collins told ABC that children wearing masks is a “small price to pay” to ensure they can go back to in-person learning. He encouraged parents to “think about how masks should be considered.” As of Sunday, at least eight states have banned mask mandates in public schools.

“This is not a political statement or an invasion of your liberties,” Collins said. “This is a lifesaving medical device. And asking kids to wear masks is uncomfortable, but you know kids are resilient.”

“We know that kids under 12 are likely to get infected, and if we don’t have masks in schools, this virus will spread more widely,” he continued. “It will probably result in outbreaks in schools, and kids will have to go back to remote learning, which is the one thing we want to prevent,”

.@GStephanopoulos asks @NIHDirector his best advice for parents.

“Think about masks as they ought to be considered: this is not a political statement or an invasion of your liberties. This is a lifesaving medical device.”

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 8, 2021

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