CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer called on coronavirus vaccinations and vaccine passports to be made mandatory in the U.S., citing a concern for the Delta variant of the virus, as well as an increase in cases amongst the unvaccinated.
In a Wednesday column, Zelizer argued that Republicans and Democrats, including President Biden, were focusing too much on individual rights rather than "the good of the collective," and declared that Americans shouldn't view the vaccine "as an optional inoculation."
"It is time to impose vaccine mandates and passports. The Covid-19 vaccines continue to perform extraordinarily well, but the rate of infection is worsening in unvaccinated populations. The Delta variant is offering a sobering reminder that the pandemic has faded in much of the country but certainly not ended," Zelizer wrote.
"Both political parties have made the mistake of framing vaccines within the tradition of individualism," he added. "Even President Joe Biden, who has demonstrated his comfort with a muscular role for government, keeps appealing to individuals to make the right and patriotic choice when it comes to receiving their jabs."
A number of states have sought to entice their citizens to get vaccinated by offering incentives, some going so far as to offer $1 million cash prizes through a lottery, free college tuition, free food, and even beer. One study focused on Ohio's "Vax-a-Million" lottery, however, found that the incentive didn't actually correspond to an increase in vaccination rates.
Zelizer claimed that these incentives were not enough: "Easy, accessible and attractive are important; nobody should face barriers toward receiving vaccines. But citizens must also not see this as an optional inoculation."
"Biden and other political leaders need to start thinking about the good of the collective and not just the rights of the individual. Doing so is not some sort of move toward socialism, as conservative critics inevitably argue," Zelizer said.
"Thinking of the common good is as American as apple pie," he added, before listing government programs Americans have been required to participate in, like Social Security.
Zelizer went on to claim that "collective obligations" were always part of "what actually makes America great," and that vaccines needed to start being talked about through that lens.
"If we want to restore normality on a long-term basis, restore our economy, create opportunity for everyone and live in a society where we and our loved ones are safe, healthy and happy, much more of the population needs to be vaccinated," he said. "Requiring vaccination must be at the heart of our public health agenda."