Disrupting Vaccination Drives Is Just as Authoritarian as Promoting Vaccine Mandates

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

The COVID-19 vaccine has become one of the most contentious issues in American politics today. On one side, leftists have embraced the vaccine and are pushing to make vaccinations mandatory. On the other side, some right-leaning Americans are trying to persuade as many people as possible to refuse the jab. Unfortunately, some in the anti-vax camp have become just as authoritarian as those who seek to use the government to force people to take the injection.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that in Georgia, “anti-vaxxer protesters had disrupted several vaccination drives – and forced one to shut down.”

The office of George Public Health Commissioner Kathleen Toomey told the news outlet on Monday that staff working a public health vaccination drives “have been harassed, yelled at, threatened and demeaned by some of the very members of the public they were trying to help.”

Toomey also said her office has received “hostile and harassing emails.” She said:

These people are giving their lives to help others. We should be thanking them for trying to get life-saving vaccines to our state.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reported:

In one south Georgia county, the anti-vaxxers tracked down public health employees through social media and harangued them with messages of hostility and misinformation about vaccines.

The event that was shut down was a mobile vaccination event that was supposed to take place in north Georgia. “An organized group of people showed up to harass and name-call public health workers,” according to the newspaper.

Nancy Nydam, Toomey’s spokesperson told AJC:

Aside from feeling threatened themselves, staff realized no one would want to come to that location for a vaccination under those circumstances, so they packed up and left.

Georgia is not the only state in which anti-vax protesters are engaging in this behavior. In Tennessee, the authorities arrested Virginia C. Brown on Monday after she allegedly drove her SUV through a medical tent where county health workers were administering COVID-19 vaccines at a mall according to WSMV.

On Tuesday, anti-vax protesters in Franklin, Tennessee, harassed health care workers who advocated for mask mandates in the classrooms during a school board meeting. At least one person appeared to threaten the workers as they left the meeting, shouting:

We know who you are. You can leave freely, but we will find you.

On January 30, anti-vax protesters temporarily shut down one of the largest vaccination sites in the country. The Washington Post reported:

For nearly an hour, thousands of motorists in line to get a coronavirus vaccine shot at Dodger Stadium were stalled as about 50 people demonstrating against immunization efforts caused officials to temporarily close the site’s gates, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman David Ortiz told The Washington Post.

Most can agree that forcing people to take the COVID-19 vaccine is not the correct course of action. Indeed, a poll conducted a few weeks ago showed that most Americans – both Republicans and Democrats – believe taking the injection should be a matter of personal choice. It is why people reject the idea of using the government to force people to get vaccinated.

However, the “personal choice” principle also goes the other way. It is one thing to be against taking the vaccine. But it is quite another to try to prevent people from choosing to take the jab on their own. Those who seek to prohibit individuals from being inoculated are every bit as authoritarian as those who wish to force individuals to be injected.

The bottom line is that people should be free to choose what they put in their bodies instead of having the decision made for them. This means that those who oppose vaccines must accept that they cannot and should not attempt to stop those who have made the personal choice to get vaxxed. Authoritarianism is wrong regardless of the position one takes on these issues.