Michaelson: The Minneapolis Vaccine Mandate

The vaccine mandate is essential to ensure the health and well-being of Minnesotans.


by Gavin Michaelson

We first heard about the Omicron variant at the end of November, and since mid-December, Omicron has been on everyone’s minds. This extremely contagious variant seems to have everyone quarantined. For weeks on end, my social media feed was flooded with people testing positive for the virus. Around the holidays, it seemed like everyone was getting sick. In Hennepin County alone, our cases skyrocketed, and are still very high to date, accounting for an average of 1,461 cases per day.

For months, people have not respected the mask recommendations put in place by the state and local businesses, which has continuously put our frontline workers — myself included — at risk of contracting the virus. By the end of January, it felt as though nearly everyone I knew had been exposed to the virus. Yet, people still failed to follow through with an easy and simple task: wearing a mask. Despite the knowledge of cases being extremely high, many people still lack the common courtesy of wearing a mask inside public spaces to protect their fellow customers and the employees who keep businesses running — the same people who are oftentimes working minimum wage and for whom losing two weeks worth of pay could be detrimental.

The vaccine mandate in the city of Minneapolis was absolutely necessary. At this point, most of us have had ample time and opportunities to get vaccinated and prevent the spread of this virus. There have been countless opportunities for people to even be rewarded for getting vaccinated. Now, there is even more incentive for people to get vaccinated, or at the very least, tested.

However, like every other COVID-related restriction put in place, we have witnessed opposition from both residents and businesses alike. A group of bar and restaurant owners including the Gay 90s and Sneaky Pete’s filed a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis, arguing that Mayor Jacob Frey doesn’t have authority to issue such a mandate. They claimed to support vaccinations, but their actions seem to defy those beliefs. Thankfully, the court did not rule in their favor.

While I recognize the COVID-related struggles that businesses have undergone throughout the course of the pandemic, I do not understand the issue they have with requiring vaccinations.

In Minnesota, over 64.% of people are fully vaccinated and over 69.3% are at least partially vaccinated. In Hennepin County specifically, 78.6% of the population are at least partially vaccinated. The numbers are looking up, and in order to keep cases down, we need these policies in place.

If we want to truly combat this virus and return to “normal”, we need to be working together, not fighting and disobeying these policies. So, why can we not agree? Why are we still fighting against vaccinations that have proven to work? This should not be a political issue, nor should this even be up for debate. At this stage, getting vaccinated should be considered a civic duty. It is inhumane to disregard the health, safety and well-being of others because of conspiracy theories or falsified information.

If sacrifices should be made, it should be from our daily routines, or something as simple as getting vaccinated, not sacrificing the well-being of others because of our inherent selfishness as human beings.