During an appearance on Fox News Friday, CDC director Rochelle Walensky indicated the Biden administration is considering a federal vaccine mandate, as vaccination rates plateau and skepticism persists in certain regions of the country.
When host Bret Baier asked if Walensky supports requiring vaccination on a federal level, she replied, “That’s something that I think the administration is looking into. It’s something that I think we are looking to see approval of from the vaccine.”
“Overall, I think in general, I am all for more vaccination. But I have nothing further to say on that except that we are looking into those policies,” she said.
So far only private enterprises, mostly recently Walmart and Disney, as well as local and state municipalities, have imposed vaccine requirements on their employees and some patrons, Walensky noted.
When Baier raised the objections of the vaccine-hesitant and their claims to bodily autonomy and personal choice in a private medical decision, Walensky seemed to sympathize with their concerns. “I completely understand the pushback,” she said. However, she said that the COVID shot is not the first vaccine to be treated as a condition of travel, employment, public schooling, or entry to other settings.
While she emphasized that the onus is on the CDC to persuade the unconvinced, Walensky implied in her statement that state coercion is not off the table.
“Some people haven’t had access. Some people haven’t had time off. Some people don’t understand its benefits. Some people are worried about the side effects,” she said, adding that the CDC is working to provide more information to those who have abstained from the vaccine.
The CDC director said the agency has investigated reports of complications resulting from the COVID vaccine submitted to the VAERS database, specifying that the data have shown “very rare signals” pointing to these adverse events.
“What I would say is we have vaccinated 164 million Americans. So we have an extraordinary amount of data since December as we started getting vaccinating people,” she said. “So I have extraordinary confidence in the safety of these vaccines.”
Walensky’s comments come after she recently suggested on CNN that the federal government is not outright opposed to implementing a European-style health pass system that provides special access to certain activities and venues to verified vaccinated individuals.
“I think some communities are doing that, and that may very well be a path forward,” she offered.