Proposed legislation would make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 12/23/20

ALBANY, NY — If enacted as currently written, proposed New York State Assembly Bill Number A11179 (www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2019/a11179) would make the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory …

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Proposed legislation would make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory

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ALBANY, NY — If enacted as currently written, proposed New York State Assembly Bill Number A11179 (www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2019/a11179) would make the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for everyone who can safely receive it. Only those with medical waivers from their doctors would be exempted from the vaccination requirement. This bill would exclude the possibility of exemption on grounds of religious, political, or moral objection.

Certain medical conditions may warrant medical exemption. One of the most common reasons for medical exemption is potential allergic reaction to the vaccine or any of its ingredients. Only a doctor can determine, based on a patient’s medical history, if that patient is at risk for severe allergic reaction from a vaccine.

However, according to Healthline (www.healthline.com/health/vaccinations/opposition), one of the nation’s leading online medical resources, the most common objection to vaccination comes not from medical conditions but from distrust of the medical profession, of pharmaceutical companies and their products, of the government, and, increasingly, of science itself.

Per Healthline, “Vaccination opposition isn’t a new concept. As long as there have been vaccines, there have been people who objected to them.” Smallpox vaccination, in particular, elicited a huge public outcry. In the early 1800s, the idea of being injected with a cowpox blister seemed to go against both common sense and fundamental principles of hygiene. Some clergy even saw it as a threat to religion. Nevertheless, the practice eventually gained widespread acceptance and, in 1980, finally eradicated smallpox from the planet.

Healthline notes that no major world religion opposes vaccination on principle or views it as antithetical to its own religious teachings. Hospital chaplain Rabbi Lawrence Zierler, who earned a master’s degree in bioethics from Case Western University, says quite the opposite is true for Judaism. “Since biblical times, two basic tenets of Judaic thought have been observed continuously. One is furtherance of medical knowledge and practice, including the Jewish tradition that encourages recourse to ‘tried and tested’ medical treatment. The other is the obligation to care for one’s own health as well as that of others. Vaccination serves both these purposes.”

Zierler adds, “The determined efficacy of these vaccines clearly puts them in this class and category, and they more than clear the threshold of risk-benefit calculus described in Jewish law. The socially redeeming value of the vaccine and its observed success justifies possible adverse reactions in some, while those with allergies and other contraindications would surely merit medical exemptions.”

Documenting his claim, Zierler supplied a joint statement from two widely-recognized Jewish organizations, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union, dated December 15. It reads in part, “We are grateful for the progress that has been made in vaccine development for COVID-19... Halacha obligates us to care for our own health and to protect others from harm and illness. In addition, Halacha directs us to defer to the consensus of medical experts in determining and prescribing appropriate medical responses to both treating and preventing illness. There has long been an almost uniform consensus among leading medical experts that vaccines are an effective and responsible manner of protecting life and advancing health. For [more than] 200 years, vaccinations have been responsible for the dramatic reduction of many terrible diseases and have significantly improved public health in our country and around the world. For this reason, the consensus is to encourage us to use vaccinations to protect ourselves and others from disease.”

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