The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.
Vaccine mandates in hospitals, long-term care facilities and large companies might be controversial in some circles. But among Ohio economists, support appears to be overwhelming.
In fact, according to a survey last week of a 25-member panel of university economists, that support was nearly unanimous.
In the face of a surging coronavirus variant, President Joe Biden on Sept. 9 announced vaccine requirements that would affect about 100 million Americans, including federal employees, health-care staff and those employed by companies with at least 100 workers.
In issuing the order, Biden expressed frustration with the roughly 80 million Americans who hadn’t been vaccinated.
“We’ve been patient,” Biden said, according to the Associated Press. “But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.”
Research has shown that vaccination rates lag in areas that voted for former President Donald Trump, who was determined by a Cornell University study to be the single largest driver of misinformation about the pandemic.
GOP elected officials — including in Ohio — were quick to condemn Biden’s order.
In a tweet, Gov. Mike DeWine called the order a mistake and later explained that he believed it unnecessarily injected politics into the vaccine effort.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Dave Yost called the order unconstitutional and “monarchical,” but he refused to explain why he thinks Biden doesn’t have authority under a 1970 occupational safety law to issue it.
But a panel of academic economists surveyed by Scioto Analysis was overwhelming in its consensus that such vaccine requirements would be good for the Ohio economy. All of the respondents agreed last week that “Mandating vaccinations for workers at long-term care facilities and hospitals will result in economic benefits that outweigh the policy’s economic costs.”
And all but three agreed that “Mandating vaccinations for workers at all companies with 100 or more employees will result in economic benefits that outweigh the policy’s economic costs.” Two others were uncertain and one disagreed.
“Reaching a high vaccination rate at the local, national and global levels is the only way to put an end to this pandemic and to reduce the likelihood of new variants,” Denison University economist Fadhel Kaboub wrote in the comment section accompanying the survey. “Mandating vaccinations in as many professional and academic spaces as possible is both a public health and economic imperative.”
After allowing Ohio health orders expire on June 2, DeWine has ruled out issuing more, citing a law passed by the GOP supermajority in the Ohio legislature that limits his power to issue such orders. Lawmakers overrode DeWine’s veto of the bill in March.
DeWine called the law unconstitutional, but earlier this month he dismissed the idea of issuing orders anyway and going to court to challenge the law. Instead, he’s trying to persuade Ohioans to get vaccinated, with mixed results.
As of Tuesday, just under half of Ohioans have completed vaccination. That puts Ohio 35th among the 50 states for those fully vaccinated.