Say No to Big Government and Big Business Vaccine Mandates | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Liz Wheeler during a Newsweek podcast debate on COVID-19 vaccine mandates. You can listen to the podcast here:

If you want to eliminate people from your life who have not gotten the vaccine or who are unwilling to disclose whether they've gotten it, that's that's absolutely your choice. I personally find it ridiculous—but hey, it shouldn't matter to you what I think. That's how it should be done—not by employers and not by the state, not by public health officials, not by the federal government.

I find it a little incongruent that vaccine mandate supporters are worried about being infected with COVID-19 by coming into contact with people who haven't been vaccinated, yet they also say that they believe the vaccine is effective against COVID-19. So it seems to me you can't really have it both ways. Either you believe the vaccine is going to end the pandemic, you believe that it's going to stop transmission, you believe you're protected; or you believe that it doesn't really work, that you're still a vector of transmission, that it just maybe prevents you from dying.

I think that that's one of the examples that I would give for where the CDC has been extremely communicatively poor: They've told people different things. I mean, we had the president of the United States tell us that if you get the vaccine, that you will not get COVID. We now know that obviously, you can get COVID—it might not be as severe of a case, but you can get it and we're told that you can transmit COVID even when you're vaccinated at the same rate as those who are unvaccinated. Yet we're told again by the CDC that it's an epidemic of the unvaccinated.

These contradictions, I think, have caused the American public to lose faith in these institutions and to lose faith in the so-called "experts." I, for one, as an American citizen, I'm happy if you want to get the vaccine, that you have the opportunity to get the vaccine, and I'm happy if someone doesn't want to. I respect their right to bodily autonomy—to choose what goes into their body. I don't care. It's none of my business who gets the vaccine. But the American people don't trust these institutions. And this is exactly why.

 Medical assistant Tammy Fuentes begins to administer
Medical assistant Tammy Fuentes begins to administer a COVID-19 test during a drive-thru vaccination clinic at Genview Diagnosis on August 13, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images

You have every right in the world to ask people who are in your personal sphere, if they had the vaccine, and to show you proof. And the people in your sphere have every right to say, "Well, with all due respect, it's none of your business. I choose not to disclose that." We all accept that premise. But when you have an employer that's mandating it and there are limited but valid reasons that people choose not to get the vaccines, like health care-related reasons, private medical conditions—that causes them and their medical provider, perhaps, to consider themselves not able to take the vaccine safely—and religious beliefs, you would have to disclose those as an individual to an employer.

I believe that that's a violation of privacy, regardless of the legalese to it. That's not something that we want in a nation. In fact, to use a term from the Left's playbook, it's almost ableist because then anybody who has any kind of health condition that they prefer to keep private—prefer all of their colleagues not to know about it, prefer their boss not to know about it, because it's their personal medical issue—they would then have to disclose that to their employer, which could, in turn, cause some kind of discrimination or different treatment or just a feeling of a violation of privacy.

The same goes with religious beliefs. Often in places of private enterprise, people don't talk about their religion as much. They don't talk about their politics, because they don't want to be having those debates. They don't want to feel ostracized—they just want to go in and do their jobs. And this is creating an environment then, in these different places of employment, where people have to disclose their most private personal convictions or their medical problems.

I don't think that that's a good road that we want to go down. And with government-subsidized corporations that have been bailed out by the government to enact these mandates, we all know that even when private industry is enacting mandates, they're under some coercion by the federal government. This is, of course, a strategy by the Biden administration to get as many people vaccinated as possible. They're using the private sector as sort of the enforcers of this. They're saying, you know, in New York, the former Cuomo administration is saying you can't go in bars, restaurants or gyms, and private business has the responsibility then to actually be the enforcer here.

Liz Wheeler is a political commentator and host of The Liz Wheeler Show.

The views in this article are the writer's own.