Vaccine Mandates, Covid Tests, and Humanistic Psychology
by Elliot Benjamin, Ph.D. Ph.D. December, 2021
The political issue of vaccine mandates has been a tremendously divisive and embattled issue all over the world, and particularly in the United States . From my own perspective, I strongly agree that vaccines are an effective and important way of combating Covid , but at the same time I believe that there should be a specific alternative to a vaccine mandate, specifically an alternative of allowing for a Covid test to substitute for a vaccine requirement . My initial reason for advocating for the Covid test to serve as an alternative to a vaccine mandate is a very personal one . However, I believe that offering this kind of alternative is a reasonably effective way of providing safety to people when in public spaces, and is consistent with the empathy and authenticity core principles of humanistic psychology . In this essay I will describe how I have come up with these assertions.
Is Requiring a Covid Test an Effective Way of Providing Safety to People in Public Spaces?
It is now commonly reported that there are a number of “breakthrough” cases in which people who have been fully vaccinated have gotten infected by Covid, inclusive of severe cases, hospitalization, and death . There are certainly a variety of possible factors that could at least partially explain this unsettling phenomenon, inclusive of being overweight, excessive smoking, and a multitude of other compromised health conditions . But the fact remains that getting a vaccine is by no means foolproof, and I have previously acknowledged that there are possible harmful effects from vaccines . However, I have also strongly come to the conclusion that the benefits in general significantly outweigh the detriments in regard to a decision to get a Covid vaccine . Nevertheless, when it comes to instituting vaccine mandates, I think the issue should be considered from a wider perspective than apparently is currently being considered by the Biden administration in the United States, as well as various other cities and states in the United States .
First off, getting a Covid test can be argued to be “safer” than getting a vaccine in the sense that at least as soon as the test comes back negative, there is much more insurance that one is not infected, compared to the insurance one has from getting a vaccine, which is well known to wane over time, in as much as 3 months from obtaining the vaccine . However, the downside to the insurance from getting a Covid test is the time period from receiving a negative test result and attending a public event. But the more this time period is reduced, the greater security there is. This is why the allowed time period after obtaining a negative result from the required Covid test to board an international flight to the United States has recently been shortened from 3 days to 1 day, in light of the Omicron new variant Covid scare . This is certainly still not foolproof, much less what could occur in regard to an unvaccinated person with a negative Covid test infecting others in subsequent “private” interactions. But what we are talking about here are “public” events and vaccine mandates. And in this context, I would argue that both vaccines and Covid tests are not foolproof, and I do not see a significant difference between their level of security, assuming that the vaccines have been administered within a reasonable time period, say 3 months, and that a negative Covid test has been obtained in a reasonable time period before attending a public event, say 1 day. In regard to working a full-time day-to-day job, this may very well translate into daily Covid testing as an alternative to vaccine mandates, but at least it is giving people a choice.
Humanistic Psychology and the Covid Test as an Alternative to Vaccine Mandates
Humanistic psychology, which is the branch of psychology that I identify with both personally and professionally, has the human qualities of empathy and authenticity as its core principles . And these core principles go hand-in-hand with listening in a genuine way to how people are feeling . These core principles are currently being put into place in the political arena through what humanistic psychologist Kirk Schneider refers to as his “experiential democracy” work . And this is where I see the Covid test alternative to vaccine mandates as offering potential healing merit, i.e., healing merit for the havoc and hatred and violence that is overtaking the United States and the world in regard to the factious divisions over vaccine mandates . Because allowing for another possibility aside from vaccine mandates for people to keep their jobs and attend public events is an act of genuinely listening to how people feel about the issue, regardless of whether or not someone agrees with another person’s perspective. I certainly don’t agree with someone’s perspective against getting a vaccine because of their view that the possible detriments of the vaccine outweigh the possible benefits. But what is most important to me here, and I say this from the motivation of my own personal situation about this issue , is to try to not alienate an important relationship between two people who have very different perspectives about this issue. Of course it goes without saying that preserving the relationship must go along with not compromising one’s safety and security. But as I have argued above, I think the Covid test alternative to the vaccine mandate is a viable way of bridging this gap; i.e., a way of preserving a precious relationship without compromising one’s safety and security.
What I am suggesting in this essay is by no means an “easy” fix or solution to the vaccine mandate issue. For one, there is still the element of insecurity in-between the time when one receives a negative Covid test result and attends the public event, as well as the insecurity from interacting with an unvaccinated person privately after a negative Covid test. And in regard to requiring Covid tests on a daily basis to keep one’s employment, as an alternative to vaccine mandates, of course this is a very large burden for anyone to undertake, but it at least offers an alternative. The crux of what I am proposing here requires a significant degree of “compromise” on the part of all the people involved. I don’t know if this degree of compromise is workable, and the answer I’m sure is not an all or none answer but rather it depends on the particular people in the particular circumstances. For me, I have already described that it is workable in my own very personal particular circumstance , and I am grateful for this. And now I would like to promote what I am experiencing, in the hope that this kind of compromise may be more workable for more people, and that governments and administrations seriously consider this alternative much more widely than they have thus far been doing.
Notes and References
1) See Zaheena Rasheed (2021), Should COVID-19 Vaccines Be Mandatory? Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/10/18/should-covid-19-vaccines-be-mandatory; Associated Press (2021), Vaccine Mandates Create Conflict With Defiant Workers; Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2021-10-23/vaccine-mandates-create-conflict-with-defiant-workers; Ken Bredemeier (2021), Disputes Over Vaccination Mandates Multiplying in US. Retrieved from https://www.voanews.com/a/disputes-over-vaccination-mandates-multiplying-in-us/6278965.html; and Peter Szekely and Barbara Goldberg (2021), New York City Expands COVID Vaccine Mandates for Children, Private Sector. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/new-york-city-mandates-vaccines-all-private-businesses-omicron-spreads-2021-12-06/
2) See Elliot Benjamin (2021), Germ Theory Denial, Anti-Vaccination, and Covid-19. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin126.html; see also my four-part essay series COVID: To Get Vaccinated or Not To Get Vaccinated; Part 1 is available at www.integralworld.net/benjamin121.html and the other four parts are available from this link.
3) See Elliot Benjamin (2021), On Vaccine Mandates: A Personal Integrative Perspective. Retrieved from www.integralworld.net/benjamin127.html
4) See Carl Rogers (1969), On becoming a person. Houghton-Mifflin; and Kirk Schneider, J. Fraser Pierson, & Jim Bugental (Eds.), The handbook of humanistic psychology: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). Sage.
5) See Stephen Wang et al. (2021), Severe Breakthrough COVID-19 Cases in the SARS-CoV-2 Delta (B.1.617.2) Variant Era. Retrieved from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanmic/article/PIIS2666-5247(21)00306-2/fulltext
6) See Lyudmyla Kompaniyets et al. (2021), Body Mass Index and Risk for COVID-19-Related Hospitalization, Intensive Care Unit Admission, Invasive Mechanical Ventilation, and Death — United States, March — December 2020. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7010e4.htm; Meredith Wadman (2020), Why COVID-19 is More Deadly in People with Obesity — Even If They’re Young. Retrieved from https://www.science.org/content/article/why-covid-19-more-deadly-people-obesity-even-if-theyre-young; Emily Henderson (2021), Study shows Link Between Smoking and COVID-19 Severity, Death. Retrieved from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210928/Study-shows-link-between-smoking-and-COVID-19-severity-death.aspx; and Lisa Maragakis (2021), Who is at High Risk for Severe Coronavirus Disease? Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-covid19-who-is-at-higher-risk
7) See Annie Lennon (2021), COVID-19 Protection Wanes 90 Days After Second Pfizer Vaccine. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/covid-19-protection-wanes-90-days-after-second-pfizer-vaccine
8) Squire Patton Boggs (2021), Coming Home for the Holidays? COVID Testing Requirements for Air Travelers Reduced to One Day Prior to Departure. Retrieved from https://www.natlawreview.com/article/coming-home-holidays-covid-testing-requirements-air-travelers-reduced-to-one-day
9) See Kirk Schneider (2020). The Depolarizing of America: A Guidebook for Social Healing. University Professors Press.