There is an old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. President Biden surely knows it by heart but doesn’t want to hear it now. By his reckoning, COVID-19 vaccine naysayers are like those stubborn beasts. As refuseniks, they must be made to stop snorting at his medicinal offensive. So long as the U.S. Constitution survives, though, government health policy must not be shoved down Americans’ throats, nor the vaccine into unwilling arms.
The balky behavior on the part of some individuals is showing up in a downturn in the number of shots administered. The seven-day moving average of vaccine doses administered per day peaked at 3.2 million in early April and has fallen to about 370,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With 68 percent of adults having received at least one shot, Mr. Biden is squinting over a U.S. landscape seemingly populated with political contrarians and fools. His solution: send agents to fan out and twist arms until the vax-free agree to roll up their sleeves. “Now we need to go to community-by-community, neighborhood-by-neighborhood,” urged the president last week, “and oftentimes, door-to-door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people.”
Similarly, stern proposals like the use of vaccine mandates and passports are emboldening like-minded autocrats to talk vax smack: “I’m trying to restrain myself but I’ve kind of had it,” former Obama Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the New York Times. “We’re going to tiptoe around mandates. It’s like, come on. I’m kind of over that.”
Threatening tones only make some Americans wary of government “help.” In South Carolina, where folks still wave the Stars and Stripes with pride, Gov. Henry McMaster has urged the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control in a letter to shun invasive Biden tactics: “The prospect of government vaccination teams showing up unannounced or unrequested at the door of ‘targeted’ homeowners or on their property will further deteriorate the public’s trust and could lead to potentially disastrous public safety consequences,” Mr. McMaster wrote.
While there may be Americans who instinctively avoid contact with the feds like, well, the plague, others decline the vaccine for a variety of thoughtful and justifiable reasons. The risk of catching coronavirus and dying – vanishingly minuscule for the young – is less concerning for some than reports of rare but frightening side effects, which include blood clots and neurological disorders stemming from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in particular.
Still, others are comfortable foregoing inoculation due to natural resistance from previous COVID-19 infection or owing to remote living and working conditions that effectively preclude person-to-person contact.
The vast majority who receive the vaccine are glad they did, but each knows best his own needs. Mr. Biden must remember that while the horse will bear a master, the American will not.