Bodily autonomy and vaccine requirements

Illustration by Jaida Noble | Vaccine passports like this one may become necessary to do many things such as travel out of the country or even a mall.

Vaccine requirements have brought up questions about bodily autonomy.

Vaccine requirements have started to go into effect all around the country and it is expected that one day something like a vaccine passport will be needed to travel or for crowded areas such as malls or theaters. 

UWT’s vaccine requirement went into effect on Oct. 29, so make sure that you have attested to your vaccination  status or a hold will be placed on your winter quarter registration. All students and personnel are required to be vaccinated and while there are exemptions, there is no exemption for personal beliefs about the vaccine. 

Washington currently requires the COVID-19 vaccine for health care workers and long-term care workers, cabinet agency state employees, and employees in educational settings according to the Washington State Department of Health.

However, vaccine requirements bring up the question of bodily autonomy. 

I’ve seen protesters use the slogan “My body, my choice” while protesting the vaccine requirement. Which isn’t really the right slogan for the cause so if I may, anti-vaxxers, can I propose a new slogan for you? 

“It’s my choice, but everybody is impacted,” basically that means sure it is your choice but see, your choice impacts others. 

Now, I know some of you are wondering, but Remi, how is abortion a different conversation than requiring vaccines?

So, here is what makes requiring the vaccine different than abortion. Abortion isn’t contagious. Pregnancy isn’t contagious. However, COVID-19 is. Especially the Delta variant.

Getting a vaccine does affect others. If you are not vaccinated you are more likely to spread COVID-19 due to the higher chance of getting infected, according to the CDC. When you get infected you infect others, even if you are being as careful as you possibly could be, no precaution is 100% effective and there is always a risk. 

There are many examples of things that “should” have bodily autonomy but don’t. 

For example, sure it is your right to get drunk and drive a vehicle or operate heavy machinery. But, law enforcement will still send you to jail because what you are doing is dangerous to others and yourself.

Another one is smoking in a crowded building. Again, you have a right to do so but, you will be sent to jail as it is a health hazard to others. 

Abortion doesn’t put the general public in danger. The scope of impact for abortion is very narrow. I will say it again and again until I am blue in the face. I’m so tired of hearing this conversation. 

It is your body but the choice doesn’t stay inside your body. It affects everyone.

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