COVID-19 Vaccinations as the New Wedge Issue

In late May, the EEOC updated rules about requiring vaccines to return to work. While employers can require in-person workers (but not remote workers) to get vaccinated, there are limits. Among other things, businesses must make accommodations for the ADA and can’t make one’s vaccine status public information. This is consistent with President Biden’s policy that there will be no federal vaccine mandate, no ‘vaccine passport,’ and no federal COVID-19 vaccination database.

Nonetheless, Republicans across the country are blowing their dog whistles with COVID vaccinations as a proxy for their arguments of government overreach under Democrats. Thus far we have seen 14 states outlaw the use of vaccine passport while two more severely restrict their use. Three of these (AZ, FL, GA) will figure prominently in both the midterms and the 2024 general election.

As memory of the Pandemic fades, the GOP will be even more emboldened. Already we have seen a 14% drop in support for mandatory vaccinations in just four months. (Morning Consult/Politico December 2020; Rasmussen Reports March 2021). As Republicans struggle to get traction against Biden’s real policy agenda, we can expect this issue that is not an issue to be an increasingly frequent GOP talking point.

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