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Politics: Amid challenges to Biden's vaccine mandate, study shows they work

Democrat Kansas governor rejects Biden's vaccine mandate

  Democrat Kansas governor rejects Biden's vaccine mandate The 71-year-old governor of Kansas is up for re-election in 2022. Gov. Laura Kelly said it was 'too late' for a broad federal COVID-19 mandate because states already have developed plans.Kansas Democrat Governor Laura Kelly, who is up for re-election in 2022, released a statement on Saturday announcing that her state is rejecting Biden's vaccine order for private businesses that employ more than 100 people.

In early November, the Biden administration announced that large companies with 100 or more employees would have until Jan. 4, 2022, to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or to require unvaccinated workers to undergo weekly testing. Companies that fail to comply with this ruling may be fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Twenty-four states and several governors have threatened to challenge the ruling in court, and a federal appeals court has temporarily blocked the mandate.

Amid challenges to Biden's vaccine mandate, study shows they work © Associated Press/Matt Rourke Amid challenges to Biden's vaccine mandate, study shows they work

Some business owners also have expressed fear that mandating the vaccine could intensify existing staffing shortages. Many politicians have shied away from mandates, worrying that the approach would be unpopular. But the key public health question is whether the evidence suggests that a mandate will increase or decrease vaccination. Now, Americans have the evidence coming from the implementation of mandates in companies and the government of New York City. In addition, a series of scientific experiments published recently show that the mandates can cause an increase in intentions to vaccinate.

White House: Cost of Lives Lost Worth More Than Harm to Foes of Vaccine Mandate

  White House: Cost of Lives Lost Worth More Than Harm to Foes of Vaccine Mandate More than 20 states filed lawsuits against the mandate, alleging infringements on the Constitution and federal government overreach. Department of Labor officials have defended the emergency temporary standard as being no different than others that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued in the past. The Biden administration argued in a court filing that OSHA has the ability to implement the temporary standard, in part because of the "grave" danger that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to the public.

Although many public health experts support vaccine mandates, others caution that requiring vaccination can stir anger and opposition to the vaccine. According to one psychological theory, forceful measures may trigger negative emotions and weaken intentions to vaccinate. A key question about COVID-19 vaccination is: Will expanding vaccination mandates backfire by reducing vaccine acceptance instead of increasing it?

In a paper published recently in the journal Scientific Reports, we present evidence that strongly supports the use of vaccine mandates. In four studies conducted between January and April 2021, we assessed whether requiring a vaccine, encouraging free choice in vaccination, or even suggesting that the vaccine will make recipients feel freer, strengthens or weakens vaccination intentions. In all studies, compared to free choice, the requirements strengthened vaccination intentions. Requirements worked better across racial and ethnic groups and across different political ideologies. Also, requirements did better even when we told people that vaccine mandates have low levels of support within a population, and when participants expressed a negative psychological reaction to any mandates (we measured this by asking them if they agree with statements such as "When someone forces me to do something, I feel like doing the opposite").

Vaccine mandates moving the needle, experts say

  Vaccine mandates moving the needle, experts say The efforts of early workplace vaccine mandates have been successful so far for companies and public offices large and small. But data and experts suggest that they are working.

The public health rationale of vaccine mandates and whether they are legal, constitutional and ethical have been thoroughly discussed. Regulations can promote behaviors that benefit society and, in so doing, also may instill social norms to do the right thing. Mandates, or safety laws, are part of the fabric of American life. As Americans, we are used to wearing car seat belts, submitting to security scans at airports, and stopping at red lights when we drive. In work settings, health care workers and military personnel must get required vaccines to serve in those roles, and some people who initially resent workplace vaccine mandates eventually come around.

To be sure, not all Americans are enthusiastic about having COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for their employment, and in polls a sizable minority (29 percent) strongly oppose workplace mandates. As many as half of workers say that they are willing to quit their jobs if their employers require the vaccine. However, few employees are actually leaving their jobs because of mandates. Rather, the overwhelming majority of government, airline and health care workers have chosen to vaccinate when mandated.

Republicans seize on federal vaccine mandates to fire up their base and try to court new voters worried about the economy

  Republicans seize on federal vaccine mandates to fire up their base and try to court new voters worried about the economy Republicans seeking to energize their core voters and appeal beyond their base to others concerned about the fragile economic recovery are turning to the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.With more than 70% of adult Americans now fully vaccinated, Republicans are advocating for a slender minority of Americans as they champion the rights of the unvaccinated. It's a group dominated by voters within their base, which is why objections to federal mandates have become a key talking point for several potential 2024 hopefuls as they make the case that government overreach under Biden knows no bounds and must be stopped.

In New York City, for example, only 34 police officers out of about 35,000 remain unvaccinated when the city's Nov. 1 vaccine mandate deadline passed, despite warnings from union leaders that there would be thousands of police officers who would not comply. Possibly, vaccine mandates provide an important face-saving way for many unvaccinated people to get the motivation they need and even reduce their cognitive dissonance by thinking that there is a clear need to vaccinate. People's fear of job losses and wanting to conform to social norms may be additional reasons why vaccine mandates work well.

Taken together, the experimental research evidence and success of vaccine mandates in rapidly increasing uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations among workers across the United States suggest that the mandates do work; the scientific experiments may be conservative, if anything. Fears of a backlash against vaccine mandates appear to be largely unfounded.

What remains unknown is how best to implement and tailor the vaccine mandates to different contexts in which they are introduced, including how politicized the mandate is locally. We propose that more research is needed on the impact of media and political polarization surrounding mandates.

Dolores Albarracin, PhD, is a senior fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, the Alexandra Heyman Nash Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and director of the Science of Science Communication Division at the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Jessica Fishman, PhD, is a fellow at Penn's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and the director of the Message Effects Lab at the Annenberg School for Communication and Perelman School of Medicine.

Andy Tan, PhD, MBBS, MPH, MBA, is a senior fellow at Penn's Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics and an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication.

Biden administration considers COVID vaccine mandate for all federal employees .
President Biden says mandatory vaccines for all federal workers is "under consideration" amid surge in COVID-19 cases and as vaccination rates wane.“That’s under consideration right now,” Biden told reporters. “But if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were.

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