The COVID-19 vaccine is here.
An estimated 22.7% of Americans are fully vaccinated and another 14.1% have received one dose as of Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Indiana, people aged 16 years and older have been eligible to receive it since March 31. Testing the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness has started on children younger than twelve.
It’s hard to not feel optimistic about returning to a more normal world. I certainly do. That does not mean now is the time to relax our behavior and not pull our own weight, though.
As of Monday, the number of active cases in the United States is just below 7,00,000, according to Worldometer. While this is lower than recent months, it’s still more than any month of 2020 — apart from the last half of December.
Now that most of the American population is eligible to receive a vaccine, we all have a simple choice to make. Get the vaccine or not.
Excluding those who are medically incapable of receiving it, everyone either has or will have the capability to protect themselves. But nobody can force you to get the vaccine unless either your employer or school, if you’re a student, requires you to get vaccinated.
Regardless of mandates, you should get the COVID-19 vaccine. You have an obligation to the world to get vaccinated.
“There’s a very good case to say there’s a strong moral obligation just because of the potential threat we pose to other people if we don’t have it,” Matthew Adams, a professor in the IU Department of Philosophy, said. “It’s very effective, and all the clinical trial data I’ve seen has indicated there’s very few risks of people taking it.”
If you choose not to receive a vaccine, that decision’s cost is then put on your community. Your cost-benefit analysis should reveal a clear answer.
“It certainly seems to be a case where the individual burden is comparatively small and the public total good that it serves is big,” Adams said.
There is little rationale, scientific or moral, for declining the opportunity of the vaccine.
But let’s suppose you make the decision to not get the vaccine for whatever reason. You still have a moral obligation to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Therefore, it would be moral to limit yourself in other ways.
“It would be one thing if someone said, ‘I’m a radical anti-vaxxer, but I want to live in this entirely remote region in a log cabin,’” Adams said. “That would seem to be somewhat reasonable if you want to isolate yourself from other people. It seems tricky in a college community where we do have to be able to trust each other and not directly harm one another.”
If you are completely capable of getting vaccinated and still decide it’s not worth the imagined risk, isolation is the moral choice.
This is not to say it is OK to cease taking reasonable precautions in public. You should always wear your mask in public, even where and when the mask mandate has been lifted, until it’s deemed safe by medical experts to be in public without one.
After all, the vaccine's protection is substantial but not absolute — not to mention those who are unable to receive the vaccine for health reasons get no personal protection from vaccines until we reach herd immunity. Those who can receive it owe it to them to protect as much of the country and the world from this pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic cannot end without a significant societal effort to bring about its conclusion.
I received the first dose of my vaccine April 2 in a Paoli, Indiana, CVS pharmacy. I made a little road trip out of it. It was nothing if not quick and painless. And while I have heard that the second dose is unpleasant, I know that’s negligible when compared to the greater good to which it contributes.
Let’s get vaccinated.
Noah Moore (he/him) is a sophomore studying psychology, theater, international studies and French. He is a Wells Scholar, representative in Student Body Congress and member of the Singing Hoosiers. Noah enjoys listening to music and hiking around Lake Monroe.