Vaccine Mandate and Holocaust Comparisons Are Inaccurate and Immoral


Some anti-vaxxers are comparing vaccine mandates to the Holocaust. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Daniella Terilli, Contributing Writer

COVID-19 vaccine mandates nationwide have been highly controversial since their implementation. Many people are strongly against these requirements, with some vehemently opposed to receiving the shot at all and others questioning what they view as a lack of choice in the matter. This is a contentious topic, but some anti-vaxxers have taken their opinions to an extreme by comparing the mandates to the Holocaust. Likening anything  to the Holocaust is incredibly offensive and disturbing; this behavior is unacceptable.

Aside from this comparison being exceedingly disrespectful, it’s not even close to accurate. The Holocaust victimized mass amounts of people on account of their identities. German Nazis murdered approximately six million Jews due to their religious and ethnic backgrounds. These people had no choice in their identity, and no reason to deserve the following persecution. 

Electing to remain unvaccinated is a conscious decision for most people. Anti-vaxxers need to realize that they aren’t being forced to do anything. Circumstances where unvaccinated employees are losing their jobs, for example, aren’t examples of persecution. No one is inherently entitled to work anywhere. If workers aren’t following guidelines set in place by their employers, loss of employment is a natural consequence of their choice to flout the rules. 

Besides, these mandates aren’t unjust; they are put in place with the clear-cut goal of creating a safe workplace in which all employees are protected against this very serious virus. The vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective. Requiring vaccination to resume work is not something that puts people’s health at risk — it accomplishes the exact opposite. 

It should also go without saying that the oppression people faced in Nazi Germany was far more severe than any consequences unvaccinated people are dealing with. An anti-vaxx protester wore a shirt proclaiming that “2021 is the new 1933”; considering that Germany opened the first concentration camp in 1933 and nothing even remotely similar to that is occurring right now, no parallel can be drawn between the two.

I don’t believe anything can be done to mitigate the offensive impact of these comparisons, especially regarding the tasteless use of symbols like yellow stars to further emphasize anti-vaxxers’ points. This behavior will not become any less abhorrent anytime soon. But, with antisemitism on the rise over the last several years, it’s crucial that leaders take action to put a stop to them. However, this goal becomes harder to accomplish when certain leaders actually participate in this disgraceful conduct. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia attracted criticism earlier this year for comparing COVID-19 safety protocol mandates to the Holocaust. Top Republicans denounced her remarks as “appalling” but fell short of disciplining her. Condemning these comments is the bare minimum in this situation: Greene clearly should have been punished for her harmful words to set an example to the general public that this behavior is unacceptable. While Greene ended up apologizing several weeks later, what good does that do when anti-vaxxers are wearing gold stars in alliance with their representative’s anti-semitic rhetoric? 

This is not an issue of freedom of speech or freedom to protest. Anti-vaxxers should not be denied the legal right to protest mandates or to make these outrageous comparisons. However, this is a matter of human decency. No one should be comparing vaccine requirements to the Holocaust because it’s incredibly disrespectful and insulting to countless people, on top of being a factually erroneous juxtaposition in the first place. Anyone with a shred of compassion and regard for others would never draw a parallel from guidelines meant to save lives to state-sponsored killings. 

This is also a matter of natural consequences, of which some anti-vaxxers seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding. If these people face negative ramifications from making these statements, perhaps conflict from close friends and family or even consequences like the loss of employment, they will have no one to blame but themselves.

Given that being unvaccinated is a choice, whereas religious and ethnic backgrounds are a fundamental part of a person’s identity, a comparison of mandates to the Holocaust is an inaccurate one. This inaccuracy coupled with the fact that the Holocaust involved people being imprisoned, tortured and murdered by the state, and vaccine mandates involve a loss of employment at absolute worst, this type of comparison is disgusting and inappropriate. 

Our leaders need to take a hard stance against these types of statements, especially in a time where antisemitism is increasingly prevalent. Unfortunately, not much can be done to stop people from drawing these comparisons unless they are actively inciting hate or violence. But if people in charge condemn this behavior and we as a society push back against it, hopefully it can be eliminated quickly.

Daniella Terilli, GSB ’24, is a marketing major from Westchester, N.Y.