On Monday, Merriam Webster chose “vaccine” as their word of the year for 2021. According to their website, the word of the year is determined by what words are searched on the Merriam Webster online dictionary, but also on the “words that are significant for that particular year because of the frequency with which they were looked up compared to previous years.” Last year, the word of the year was “pandemic.” These selections should come as no surprise to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past two years. The pandemic has shaped our lives, and the development of and debate regarding vaccines has come to the fore this year.

Had I been involved in the selection process, I might have offered a different word: “mandate.” The past two years have been full of mandates regarding masks, social distancing, vaccines, and other virus-related measures that have only gotten worse as time passes. In October, California governor Gavin Newsome stated his intention to require children to be fully vaccinated in order to attend in-person school. The Biden Administration recently attempted to mandate vaccines for government workers, federal contractors, and employees of any private business with 100 or more employees. The unconstitutionality of this order, as well as the current administration’s complete dismissal of naturally acquired immunity, is concerning. Thankfully, people are beginning to fight back. Federal judges have stayed the mandate for private businesses after lawsuits were filed by businesses like the Daily Wire and organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

Both of the examples above are antithetical to freedom, but the campaign to vaccinate children is particularly troubling. The push to approve, encourage, and possibly even mandate, the covid-19 vaccine for young children is not based on science or data.

At the risk of reiterating very tired pieces of information, children are simply not that susceptible to the virus. According to an article published last month in the New York Times, an unvaccinated child is less susceptible to the virus than a fully vaccinated 70-year-old. Way less susceptible, actually. In fact, data from England show unvaccinated children with about the same risk of hospitalization as fully vaccinated 40-year-olds, and significantly less risk than those in the 60+ age demographics. Of the 773,812 U.S. deaths attributed to covid-19, 601 fall in the 0-17 age demographic. That’s less than .08 percent (fewer than 4 in 5,000).

A recent data analysis out of the U.K. found that vaccinating 25,000 children had approximately the same effect on total hospitalizations as vaccinating 800 people over the age of 60. This being the case, the value of convincing just one 60+ adult to get the vaccine is approximately the same as over 31 children getting vaccinated. According to Müge Çevik, virologist at the University of St. Andrews, you cannot simply vaccinate children to make up for unvaccinated older adults. This brings up an important question: why then is there a push to approve, encourage, and eventually mandate, vaccines for young children? Shouldn’t the focus be on those older populations?

A winning strategy could be to encourage vaccination (and other mitigation strategies) among the older, more vulnerable, populations and not waste time, energy, and resources on a vaccination campaign for children that will have little impact on hospitals. Unless, of course, reducing the strain on hospitals is not the goal.

At this point, it’s beginning to seem as if the goal is to expand the size and scope of the federal government as much as possible while reinforcing the notion that freedom is too dangerous and everything will be much smoother, safer, and easier if we just bow to the government experts and do exactly as they say.

Tyler Williamson is a Research Associate at 1889 Institute and can be reached at [email protected].

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of 1889 Institute.