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Multiple vaccines literally have been lifesavers in the COVID-19 pandemic. They have slowed the spread and saved countless lives. However, some people object to vaccines or forced vaccination. Politics has played a harmful role, with politicians on both sides making statements that have discouraged some people from getting vaccinated.

The debate over vaccine mandates has been intense. Even professional athletes have been involved, with some refusing to comply.

Some conservative leaders have pushed bans on vaccination mandates, and Arizona has been part of that movement. The state has legislation banning mandates, but the courts have put that on hold. Meanwhile, mandates have advanced steadily across the nation.

Now the three state universities in Arizona have mandates, pushed forward by controls attached to federal funding. Gov. Doug Ducey has no plans to oppose the mandates there, a spokesman said. And that does seem like a mess Ducey is wise to avoid.

University of Arizona President Robert Robbins, himself a physician, cited the importance of federal dollars to his institution at a media briefing. He also seemed to avoid a confrontation with Ducey, pointing out that the governor has been vaccinated, favors vaccination and supported infrastructure to deliver vaccines quickly once they became available.

The Arizona Board of Regents controls the universities, which have decided to mandate vaccinations for faculty and staff. If the governor wanted to take action against the universities, that would be difficult because of the organizational structure.

Vaccination greatly reduces the chance of severe illness or death with COVID. With the Delta variant, some people still get the disease after vaccination, but usually it’s a mild case. The nation is working through some conflict over vaccine mandates, but that will pass eventually. Weighing into the university situation would be a problem that Ducey does not need to have.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.


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