Get vaccinated and mask up

Public spaces have the right to require that employees, students and other visitors be vaccinated. August 23, the FDA officially approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Since December, this vaccine, along with others, have passed the strict safety standards the FDA has set for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Considering the dire consequences that can come from being unvaccinated, many people in the U.S. have been vaccinated already, including myself. However, even with almost half of the country vaccinated, cases are still rising as people refuse to get vaccinated. Everyone who is able to should be vaccinated. Now, especially since Pfizer’s FDA approval, refusing to be vaccinated is irresponsible, selfish and dangerous. Not everyone can be vaccinated, some cannot because of age or medical reasons and those refusing vaccination for selfish reasons further endanger these people. 

As former Associate Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once said, “The right to swing my arms in any direction ends where your nose begins.” Meaning, we do not have the liberty to do whatever we please if it causes direct harm to others, so mask mandates need to  stay in all public places until COVID cases decrease. The virus doesn’t care if you don’t like masks, nobody does. Masks make me feel claustrophobic, they make my face sweaty and sometimes it’s harder to talk with them on. But I have been wearing them for a year and a half now, because I have the ability to allow myself to be slightly uncomfortable for the sake of others’ health. If it was only a matter of protecting yourself, this wouldn’t be an issue. To illustrate, let’s say we were wearing masks to protect ourselves from a danger such as air pollution. In this case, the degree of protection is entirely up to the individual, as you cannot spread air pollution through people. Therefore, everyone would have the right to not wear a mask, because only they would suffer the consequences. However, COVID-19 is a contagious, deadly virus and masks help stop the spread. By not taking such precautions, you would be putting everyone else in danger.