Everyone should get the coronavirus vaccine, and it should be law

An individual dose of the filled SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate made by biotech company IDT Biologika in Dessau-Rosslau, Germany. June 24, 2020 (photo credit: HARTMUT BOESENER/IDT BIOLOGIKA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
An individual dose of the filled SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate made by biotech company IDT Biologika in Dessau-Rosslau, Germany. June 24, 2020
(photo credit: HARTMUT BOESENER/IDT BIOLOGIKA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Together with so many countries around the world, Israel welcomed the announcement by Pfizer Inc. on Monday that its vaccine for COVID-19 had been found to be 90% effective and that it’s only a matter of time before immunization begins. A key challenge will be to secure enough vaccines for all Israelis, and to prepare legislation to obligate everyone to be inoculated.
“My goal at the moment is to do one thing – to bring vaccines to you, the citizens of Israel, and we will do so,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Monday. “This means that the end is in sight. I said a few days ago that I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I think the locomotive has already left the tunnel.”
Prof. David Passig, a world-renowned futurist at Bar-Ilan University, has urged the government to make plans now for the acquisition of sufficient vaccines for all Israelis.
“No one is talking about having nine million vaccines in a year or two,” he said in an interview with The Jerusalem Report. “And it will take at least a year or two to manufacture or import nine million vaccines.”
Finance Minister Israel Katz said that he had raised the matter in talks with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
“I asked Mnuchin for help in supplying the vaccine to Israel in parallel with its supply to the United States, as part of an agreement signed between the administration and the company for the immediate delivery of 600 million doses,” Katz said.
Israel already has an agreement with two American firms, Moderna Inc. and Arcturus, for the purchase of their potential COVID-19 vaccines, and a senior Health Ministry official told The Jerusalem Post that there have also been talks with other companies.
Once Israel gets a vaccine, though, it is essential that all Israelis understand  that if the virus is to be stopped, inoculation is vital. A special Health Ministry committee that deals with efforts to halt the virus is set to convene next week to discuss the issue.
According to Yediot Aharonot, the committee will consider recommending a law ordering mandatory inoculations once the vaccine is ready. It says that the committee wrote at the end of its meeting last week that “A procedural and legal plan of incentives must be prepared for the public to get inoculated and to examine [the question of legislation for] mandatory vaccinations.”  
The goal of the move, according to Health Ministry sources, is to address concerns that certain sectors of society might have about a vaccination, especially those who might want to wait and see what side effects the shots could have.
They also note that the Health Ministry proposal could meet resistance during the legislative process.  
While inoculation rates in Israel are among the highest in the world, a law that forces people to get vaccinated would be the most effective way to achieve immunity. Public trust in government has eroded during the pandemic, and this is an opportunity to change the status quo and obligate Israeli citizens to get vaccines – not just against COVID-19 when this becomes possible – but against all deadly and debilitating illnesses.
A good example is the measles outbreak last year, which spurred debate on religious exemptions to vaccinations, when activists ideologically opposed to vaccinations, known as anti-vaxxers, made headlines. According to Health Ministry data, more than 4,300 cases of measles were reported between March 2018 and July 2019, including two deaths – a baby from Jerusalem and an elderly woman. All these could have been avoided if everyone had been vaccinated.
In an article for The Jerusalem Post Magazine, Ben Bresky quoted the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, as advising his followers to get vaccinated for polio in Israel in the 1950s, quoting the Jewish axiom, “Do not set yourself apart from the community.”
The rebbe was right. If and when a vaccine is ready, everyone must get it. That will be the best way to halt this pandemic.

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