Perhaps it is time to rethink our tolerance of “vaccine hesitancy.” The large unvaccinated population imposes dangers, burdens, and expenses on all of us.
COVID-19 is not like cancer or a car accident. Its causes and modes of spread are well known. It is preventable. Those who decline to get vaccinated are ignoring the guidance of medical experts, ignoring science, and ignoring their responsibility to join in our shared effort to resolve this public health crisis.
Vaccine hesitancy and COVID-19 denial contribute to prolonging the pandemic and making it more difficult and more expensive to combat.
In recent weeks, new surges of cases have arisen across the country, concentrated in populations with low vaccination rates. On July 19, investment markets lost billions of dollars in value, largely due to new fears of a COVID-19 resurgence, especially due to the delta variant. Once again, health care workers are being exposed to rising numbers of infected patients. The costs of the care being provided to these patients will be borne by all of us, in the form of insurance premiums and taxes.
We should discontinue giving pandemic deniers a free ride. Those who choose to ignore the advice of public health experts and who choose to persist in frustrating our efforts to bring the pandemic under control can continue to do so. But they should bear the consequences of their decisions.
Those who are eligible to be vaccinated and decline to do so ought to bear more of the costs of the resulting health care. Perhaps a “$5,000 vaccine-preventable illness” deductible would be appropriate. This simple, free market-based approach would go a long way toward distributing the burden of this public health crisis more fairly.
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