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Anti-vaxxers will have to pay up if they want to reject public health guidance

Bucking CDC guidance on Covid-19 could cost you your job and more.

Like many Americans, I have grown tired of anti-vaxxer bravado.

Suddenly, the people who bragged they’d reject Covid-19 vaccines at all costs — and in the name of so-called liberty — are now beside themselves because they can’t eat indoors at their favorite salad bar unvaccinated. Evidently, the revolution is prepared for many things, but eating stale croutons on a park bench is a bridge too far.

The FDA’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in August allowed business owners and school administrators to require vaccination for patrons, employees and students. Since then, vaccine mandates have been instituted across the country to stop the latest spike in coronavirus cases and deaths.

Nonetheless, it’s likely you know at least one person who is eager to tell you everything they’d do before taking any of the coronavirus vaccines. And while the decision to get vaccinated is not personal — it is literally a matter of public health — it’s a decision Americans are being allowed to make. Going forward, however, those who reject safe and effective coronavirus vaccines may find it quite costly.

Illustration of a stack of $100 dollar bills as a stack of Covid-19 vaccination record cards burns away.
Mark Pernice for MSNBC

Employers can “generally” require all employees be vaccinated, and it’s possible for an employee to be fired for refusing the vaccine, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Because FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine means the agency found it “safe” and “effective,” companies have cover to mandate that employees be vaccinated. For example, President Joe Biden announced in September that all federal employees will need to be vaccinated to work. The Pentagon announced a similar requirement for people in the military, and dozens of large, private companies have followed suit.

Experts say employees who refuse to comply with their company’s vaccination requirements may be ineligible to collect unemployment benefits. And even employees who are allowed to work without being vaccinated may find their insurance costs have spiked.

All of these hurdles point us to an obvious conclusion: The safest, most cost-effective option in this scenario is to get vaccinated.

In August, Delta CEO Ed Bastian announced that the remaining 25 percent of unvaccinated Delta employees will need to pay a $200 monthly fee to cover the risk of hospitalization due to coronavirus.

“The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person. This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company,” Bastian said in a memo to employees.

A Kaiser Family Foundation report recently found that 75 percent of insurers have stopped waiving out-of-pocket costs for people with Covid-19, meaning people who go to the ER with the disease may leave with a large bill.

All of these hurdles point us to an obvious conclusion: The safest, most cost-effective option in this scenario is to get vaccinated. If you have the money to do otherwise, you still shouldn’t. But if you are rich enough and wrong enough to reject public health guidance, you should expect to fork over some of that cash.

Head over to The ReidOut Blog for more.