Is It Right to Be Fired for Being Unvaccinated

It's all over the news these days. Employers, some of them anyway, are moving toward requiring their employees to get vaccinated. As the Columbus Dispatch notes, Yes, your boss can make you get a COVID-19 vaccine. Of course, if they're going to levy the threat, employers better be willing to follow through, like when CNN Fires Three Employees for Coming to Work Unvaccinated.


In a tight labor market, a better question may be, should you require your employees to get vaccinated. The policy might work against you.

Nonetheless, the debate rages as to whether it's correct--or even moral--to mandate vaccines. Some Americans complain that the practice violates their personal rights. Individual freedom, after all, is a cornerstone of American idealism. The argument is valid, though it also exposes the essential tension of our Democracy: liberty and equality. How can we reconcile individual freedom versus equal rights? My personal freedom does not extend to the right to harm others. Indeed, others have the right to be protected from being hurt by me. As Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."


The arguments from people who are reluctant to get vaccinated are similar to those who refuse to get vaccinated. It is wise to discern the difference between the two: reluctance and refusal. The former may be coaxed eventually. The latter will never acquiesce. The arguments of both fall into four general categories:

  1. Political. I am on this side in the political debate. People who hold the same political views as mine are opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine. Therefore, I am opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine.

  2. Conspiracy. I fundamentally do not trust the government. I have heard -- and I believe -- that the vaccine is, for example, a ruse to implant tracking devices into us AND/OR I have heard -- and I believe -- that COVID-19 is, for example, caused by 5G.

  3. Anti-Vaxxers. I subscribe to the philosophy that medical treatment is worse than the cure. I prefer non-medical treatments for diseases. I believe vaccines cause illness and they should not be trusted.

  4. Mistrust of the Expedited Development/Approval Process. I do not trust the safety of something that was done