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midtskogen
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

03 Oct 2021 13:43

Making vaccines (de facto) mandatory is a big mistake and backfires in distrust in vaccines.  Denying unvaccinated a job is no better than denying people a job because they have the wrong skin colour, gender, sexual preferences or beliefs.  That such laws have been passed or even discussed reveals how brittle the respect for the individual and equality is.
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03 Oct 2021 15:40

US Supreme Court Decision: Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905)

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According to the US Supreme Court, an individual's rights do not outrank everyone else's rights when it comes to the potential to bring harm to others and affect public health. It is in the same vein that we have seat belt laws. Why should your freedom to not have to wear a seat belt be limited? Because it's not only protecting you. I also have the right to be able to get emergency care and not be turned away because there were too many drivers with easily preventable injuries.

I am also pretty sure that skin color, gender, and sexual preferences are not considered transmissible diseases that can directly result in hospitalization or death. As for beliefs, well, people can be fired for exercising certain beliefs, if they are harmful enough. 
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

03 Oct 2021 22:18

midtskogen wrote:
Making vaccines (de facto) mandatory is a big mistake and backfires in distrust in vaccines.  Denying unvaccinated a job is no better than denying people a job because they have the wrong skin colour, gender, sexual preferences or beliefs.  That such laws have been passed or even discussed reveals how brittle the respect for the individual and equality is.

Well, let's narrow the focus to two specific areas- healthcare and education.  Wouldn't you say that they should be mandatory in those two areas because with the former, healthcare workers are dealing with patients who may be immunocompromised (and flu vaccines are already mandatory for them) and in the second scenario you're dealing with teachers who need to be vaccinated because they may expose children who cannot get vaccinated yet (MMR vaccines are also mandatory in our schools)?
 
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03 Oct 2021 23:01

Ok, to be clear, it's about the right to choose over one's own body and medical treatment.

I might not be able to convince anyone why the wording in the above court decision is extremely dangerous, but these kinds of arguments are not new.  Over here there was a debate in the 1920's and early 1930's and a law was eventually passed which allowed the state to sterilise people.  Amongst those targeted were Travellers, though not explicitly.  Of course the law was carefully worded, and concerns about trespassing basic rights of the individual were addressed, well enough for the law to be understood as a good thing for society and the individual, all at the expense of the state and presented as a service.  The law explicitly stated that sterilisation must be voluntary, but in reality those who accepted were under social pressure and would enjoy social benefits, and in some cases not really knowing what they were accepting. It may be easy today to dismiss the law as a tool for racial hygiene, but though such ideas were somewhat accepted at the time, people were more generally concerned about the threat to public health, like today.  Things like tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid were part of people's life, and some groups living in poor conditions were certainly considered more exposed.  Public heath was a big deal, as it is today.  I think there were similar laws in many countries around that time, targeting criminals, mentally ill people as well as ethnic groups.

Vaccines have saved millions and millions of lives, but they must remain completely voluntary.  The threat to public health argument cannot be applied, otherwise we're going a very dangerous path. 
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04 Oct 2021 00:53

Yes, you have the right to control what happens to your own body and medical treatment. Except where your decisions infringe on the rights of others. Like, the right to a healthy learning or working environment. Both universities I've attended required proof of various vaccinations, and this was well before COVID-19.

I, and apparently the majority of the interpreters of law at the highest level, believe that an unvaccinated society is more dangerous and reduces everyone's freedoms in a more severe way. Your argument seems to in the form of "slippery slope", where this could lead to individual rights being infringed upon in a terrible way with little or no actual benefit to society, let alone a reasonable balance between whose freedoms are protected. Yes, I understand the fear and see the slippery slope, but disagree with your perspective of how it must be approached (i.e. avoiding it altogether.) That's what lawmakers and interpreters and ethicists are for. Plus scientists, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of vaccines. And our public forums, too, where we can openly discuss these things. The ability for us to do this and to understand and learn from each other even when we disagree is the thing I value most in a free society, and perhaps one of the most important things that actually protects us from falling into such a dystopian future we might fear.

Or if we follow the slippery slope kind of logic, then, okay, why genetically modify anything? What does that lead to? Is the benefit of more productive and resistant crops worth the risk that someone uses it to pursue a genetically ideal race at the destruction of all others?

Another good example of balancing individual freedom with public safety that I came across recently, thanks to Veritasium:

 
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04 Oct 2021 03:55

I think these are two different arguments though.  About genetic modification, I'm fine with it when it comes from non profits and educational institutions, but not when it's companies like Bayer (formerly Monsanto) doing it, because I think we need to have some universal law where profit making companies are not allowed to copyright nature.  There's been quite a lot of controversy with these products getting mixed up with the natural environment and the consequences thereof (and also the heavyhanded approach the former Monsanto had in suing farmers who had nothing to do with it.)  I also am pretty uncomfortable with the idea of creating something that was made to be used with a specific pesticide that was made by the same company (and for which pesticide billions of dollars are now having to be laid out to pay lawsuits for non hodgkins lymphoma.)  

We can get rid of a lot of the moral issues by making sure we limit profit making motives.  If they can't make a lot of money from it then they have much less motivation to do bad things.....only the altruistic need apply.  Which is why I favor non profits far and above beyond corporate greed.
 
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04 Oct 2021 05:12

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I think these are two different arguments though.

Yes, the genetic modification example is to help examine the reasoning about how to approach slippery slopes. For many people it's a scary technology, and a topic sometimes discussed with very high passions. What protects us from these things being taken too far?

We are a society where we have access to information, media, facts (and "alternative facts"!), open discussions, elections, and procedures for making, interpreting, and enforcing laws. When society deems genetic engineering is being used in a bad way, we have a way to do something about it. When society deems there is a contradiction between certain personal freedoms and certain collective freedoms, we have a way to reach a fair balance of the two.
 
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04 Oct 2021 07:32

Well, slippery road, but it's not that this stand means an unvaccinated society.  If it did, it would mean that everybody would be opposed, and the argument would be even worse.  If this still seems a good idea, understand at least how horrible laws in the past were passed in the interest of public health.

Making covid vaccines mandatory for schools and universities is particularly unreasonable, since young people tend to get milder symptoms, if any, from the illness itself than from the vaccines, and even better protection.  So, in some sense, there is a mutual threat between those who will not get ill from covid (the vaccines) and those who will become seriously ill (the disease).
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

04 Oct 2021 14:00

Watsisname wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I think these are two different arguments though.

Yes, the genetic modification example is to help examine the reasoning about how to approach slippery slopes. For many people it's a scary technology, and a topic sometimes discussed with very high passions. What protects us from these things being taken too far?

We are a society where we have access to information, media, facts (and "alternative facts"!), open discussions, elections, and procedures for making, interpreting, and enforcing laws. When society deems genetic engineering is being used in a bad way, we have a way to do something about it. When society deems there is a contradiction between certain personal freedoms and certain collective freedoms, we have a way to reach a fair balance of the two.

Yes and disinformation spreads like a virus all on its own.  Wat, did you hear about what happened with Facebook?  A whistleblower who was high up in the company came forward with thousands of pages of reports that showed they were intentionally spreading disinformation (with regards to both the Jan 6 insurrection and Covid)- to drive up traffic on their sites (because Facebook gobbled up a few other social media sites too- Instagram and WhatsApp).  They didn't bother to deny her allegations- they couldn't (all they said was "this is misleading"), she took thousands of pages of reports with her when she left the company and gave them to 60 Minutes.

The balance of freedoms in our society that you mentioned is a great aspect of our society, however bad actors have figured out how to game the system with misinformation.  We need to figure out how to fix that.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

05 Oct 2021 05:08

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post Well, slippery road, but it's not that this stand means an unvaccinated society.  If it did, it would mean that everybody would be opposed, and the argument would be even worse.

Across the US, the fraction of the population that voluntarily chose to be vaccinated varies from about 40% to 70%, depending on the region. And hospitals are overwhelmed, mostly by those who chose not to.

Here in Washington, our hospitals have suffered a wave not just of mostly unvaccinated Washingtonians (91% of those hospitalized here were unvaccinated, despite them representing 30% of the population), but also mostly unvaccinated people transferred from neighboring states and Alaska, because those states no longer have sufficient capacity to care for them. Those states are effectively in triage mode where they prioritize those most likely to survive, and have to abandon or transfer the rest if they can. People with other medical problems besides COVID-19 have had a terrible time finding care.


midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post Making covid vaccines mandatory for schools and universities is particularly unreasonable, since young people tend to get milder symptoms, if any, from the illness itself than from the vaccines, and even better protection.

Safety and efficacy of vaccines in children under 12 is still being evaluated, but many universities have adopted the mandates for COVID. Let's focus on the universities. Not everyone who attends (or works at) a university is young. And have you given thought to what happens when students bring this disease home to their parents, or to people at a shop, or a restaurant or bar, and ultimately the rest of society including those who are at high risk or unable to be vaccinated?

The reason many educational institutions enforce vaccine mandates is because they aren't a closed system. They act as amplification points for transmissible diseases for the surrounding community. (The epidemiologist in the video I linked in the first post made this point, too.) 

I live in what is essentially a college and retirement town. The student+employee population of the various colleges and universities here (I'm not even counting K-12 education) is about 30,000 people, out of a total population of about 90,000. A third of the population. It is effectively impossible to quarantine any disease outbreak that occurs in that environment. The power of vaccine mandates at the colleges and universities here is not only to help protect the students and workers, but the entire community, another third of which are above retirement age.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

05 Oct 2021 06:25

The delta variant has also changed the game with its much higher infection rate.  We are also seeing a higher percentage of younger people dying now (probably a result of the higher infection rate.)  No segment of the population is safe now.
 
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05 Oct 2021 09:55

Watsisname wrote:
Source of the post Not everyone who attends (or works at) a university is young. And have you given thought to what happens when students bring this disease home to their parents, or to people at a shop, or a restaurant or bar, and ultimately the rest of society including those who are at high risk or unable to be vaccinated?

The parents and those at risk simply get the vaccine, then.  If they can't take the vaccine for medical reasons, it sucks, but it can't be fixed by giving up people's right to decide over their own body.  Where to draw the line if that right is void?  Would you like to be asked first before giving up a kidney, even though it could extend somebody's life?

Maybe a good strategy actually is to get the adult and vulnerable population vaccinated, then basically let the virus loose and it will likely work through the children before the vaccines wear off.  This is what has been done here.  In most cases children don't get ill or have mild symptoms for a couple of days, but they are to stay at home for 5 days after a positive test or the first symptom.  Children down to 12 can get one dose, which seems to have been approved after public pressure, whilst it's recommended for 16+.  It remains to see how this works out, though.  It appears that the vaccine is worse than the disease for children, but I consider the ill effects as pretty small in both cases and let my children decide for themselves.
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05 Oct 2021 18:01

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post If they can't take the vaccine for medical reasons, it sucks, but it can't be fixed by giving up people's right to decide over their own body

Then you've removed their right to decide what happens to their own body, with the consequence being a high chance of their hospitalization and death, plus a higher hospitalization and death rate everywhere, because vaccines are not 100% effective and you have fewer people taking them without it being mandated. You have many people's individual freedoms removed with more severe consequences.

Our highest court already weighed on this a long time ago. Yes, you have certain rights to decide what happens with your body. So does everyone else! That includes the right to health and care by controlling the spread and risk of exposure to dangerous transmissible diseases. You have the right to not take a vaccine, but if so others also have the right to refuse to let you work with them, or attend their university. Individual rights for everyone cannot be protected if everyone's individual rights are unlimited.

Our rights over our bodies are already limited in all sorts of ways. I don't have the right to be drunk in public, or even to consume alcohol in certain public spaces. I don't have the right to consume certain controlled substances, even in the privacy of my own home. Your genetic information may already be identifiable through a database and utilized by police, even if you never gave consent. Does that last one scare you? Watch Veritasium's video.

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the postWould you like to be asked first before giving up a kidney, even though it could extend somebody's life?

Yes, obviously. That's where we are. We weigh the balance between the rights of an individual and the rights of many individuals. It's an option to donate an organ. It's never (legally) taken from you without your consent. Neither is a vaccine forced into you without your consent. But you may be giving up certain freedoms within society if you don't.

Let's look at the differences between vaccination and organ donating. Donating an organ removes a part of you, with a certain level of risk, and greatly benefits an individual. Vaccination benefits you at a risk which is smaller than the alternative (exemption if evidence exists otherwise), and also benefits every single person you come in close contact with, the people they come in contact with, and ultimately, all of society. Compare the scales of sacrifice vs. benefit here. That's why there are legal mandates for vaccines, but not for organ donating. I don't think I am worried about a slippery road leading from here to there as much as you are.
 
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

06 Oct 2021 07:41

Watsisname wrote:
Source of the post Then you've removed their right to decide what happens to their own body

Uhm, what?  Ok, I think what you're arguing is that there is a conflict of rights.  Then there's no win-win, and I think the sad truth is that the rights of the majority defeat the rights of the minority.  If your have a rare immunity defect and the only options are that either you have to isolate or everybody else has to isolate, then I'm afraid the short straw is yours.

For children it's at least reasonable to question whether the benefits of at least some covid vaccines outweigh the risks, and in the land of lawsuits, could the policy backfire? But even if we had vaccines that were 100% safe and 100% effective in this case, the voluntary part is still important in order to preserve the trust in vaccines.  I fear that the apartheid strategy used in covid vaccination will cause distrust and that distrust will spread to vaccines whose trust has made them very successful (polio could be one example).
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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Thread

06 Oct 2021 17:13

Watsisname wrote:
midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post If they can't take the vaccine for medical reasons, it sucks, but it can't be fixed by giving up people's right to decide over their own body

Then you've removed their right to decide what happens to their own body, with the consequence being a high chance of their hospitalization and death, plus a higher hospitalization and death rate everywhere, because vaccines are not 100% effective and you have fewer people taking them without it being mandated. You have many people's individual freedoms removed with more severe consequences.

Our highest court already weighed on this a long time ago. Yes, you have certain rights to decide what happens with your body. So does everyone else! That includes the right to health and care by controlling the spread and risk of exposure to dangerous transmissible diseases. You have the right to not take a vaccine, but if so others also have the right to refuse to let you work with them, or attend their university. Individual rights for everyone cannot be protected if everyone's individual rights are unlimited.

Our rights over our bodies are already limited in all sorts of ways. I don't have the right to be drunk in public, or even to consume alcohol in certain public spaces. I don't have the right to consume certain controlled substances, even in the privacy of my own home. Your genetic information may already be identifiable through a database and utilized by police, even if you never gave consent. Does that last one scare you? Watch Veritasium's video.

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the postWould you like to be asked first before giving up a kidney, even though it could extend somebody's life?

Yes, obviously. That's where we are. We weigh the balance between the rights of an individual and the rights of many individuals. It's an option to donate an organ. It's never (legally) taken from you without your consent. Neither is a vaccine forced into you without your consent. But you may be giving up certain freedoms within society if you don't.

Let's look at the differences between vaccination and organ donating. Donating an organ removes a part of you, with a certain level of risk, and greatly benefits an individual. Vaccination benefits you at a risk which is smaller than the alternative (exemption if evidence exists otherwise), and also benefits every single person you come in close contact with, the people they come in contact with, and ultimately, all of society. Compare the scales of sacrifice vs. benefit here. That's why there are legal mandates for vaccines, but not for organ donating. I don't think I am worried about a slippery road leading from here to there as much as you are.

The genetics thing really concerns me.  I am glad we have whistleblowers, the public has a right to know.  Snowden was a hero for what he uncovered.  I believe in full transparency.  The mass surveillance state needed to be exposed.  All of those issues are of much more concern that vaccine mandates, vaccines are what we do to keep our society healthy.  The "benefits" of mass surveillance are virtually nonexistent, all they do is create a chilling effect on needed reforms and the ability to protest.  And it's the people who conduct those acts who have the most to hide.

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