OPINION: Being unvaccinated in a pandemic is not the same as being a Jew in the Holocaust


Photo courtesy of Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A diner in New York City displays information on the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in August 2021. Some people have argued in bad faith that safety restrictions barring people unvaccinated against COVID-19 from entering businesses is akin to Nazi Germany tactics employed against the Jews during World War II.

Since they were first announced back in December of 2020, the COVID-19 vaccines have been a topic of much debate regarding whether or not they should be mandated in order to prevent the further spread of the pandemic. Many politicians, celebrities and regular people have been encouraging others to get vaccinated by flaunting their band-aids or even vaccination cards on social media with the common message that if enough people get the vaccine, the world can return to normalcy. Others, however, feel completely opposed towards getting the vaccine. For a variety of reasons, there are plenty of people out there who are against receiving the vaccine. According to the Associated Press, about 40 percent of the US has not received a dose of the vaccine, most of whom do not plan to. Whether it be a health condition that prevents them from getting a vaccine, exercising their freedom as Americans to choose what happens to their bodies, they don’t believe there’s even an illness to be vaccinated against or because of a microchip conspiracy theory, around two-fifths ofAmericans have not and probably will not get the vaccine.

However, there have been policies passed in certain states and cities to incentivise the vaccine. For example, an unvaccinated person cannot eat in a restaurant in New York City. In order to be allowed into events like concerts and weddings, certain venues require a vaccination card. These policies are in place in order to make places such as restaurants, bars and large events safer during a global pandemic since vaccinated individuals are much less likely to spread the virus than people who have not been vaccinated. However, some who are not vaccinated see these rules as an attack to their personal liberties, a plot by the left to persecute those who have chosen to not get the shots. Some right wing people in the media like Tucker Carlson have been drawing comparisons between restrictions placed on unvaccinated individuals to the plight of Jewish people in 1940s Germany, a comparison that has become a popular talking point for people opposed to getting the vaccine. Comparing these rules barring unvaccinated people from being in crowded places to the Holocaust, however, is a gross exaggeration that not only sounds simply absurd, but is also harmful to efforts preventing actual oppression.

The Holocaust was an organized effort that systematically killed six million Jewish people simply because they were born Jewish. This is not the same as not being allowed into a concert because a person has made the conscious decision to not get the vaccine. Comparing the murder of Jews in Nazi Germany to how sad you are because you can’t go out to eat in the city is simply ridiculous. Making this comparison does not make a person appear smart or historically aware, it makes this person seem like a petulant child throwing a temper tantrum over the fact that they don’t want to get a shot. (This of course only applies to those who actively choose not to be vaccinated. People who cannot get the vaccine due to a medical condition or allergy are exempt from my criticisms.)

Not only is this comparison completely irrational, but making it is extremely problematic. Each time someone compares the events of the Holocaust to something far less consequential, it diminished the horrors of the Holocaust and normalizes genocide since it’s being equated to something so insignificant. If these comparisons become accepted, the true terror that was the Holocaust will seem less brutal than it truly was and efforts to prevent something as horrible as that from happening again will be less impactful.

Another reason this argument is so preposterous is that many of the people using the Holocaust as a comparison to restrictions against anti-vaxxers are people who have spoken out and said the Holocaust is a made up event by Jewish people in order to gain sympathy. Hearing these same people now use the Holocaust as a bargaining chip and as a comparable event to their choice to not get vacinated is simply dispicable. The Jewish people didn’t have a choice, they were killed for being Jewish. The anti-vaxxers have a choice and they know the consequences of their choice and still chose to remain unvaccinated; and they aren’t being killed for it, they are being told you can’t go to a bar. There is a big difference. 

This comparison has become so popular that anti-vaxxers in a town in Kansas have been wearing yellow stars that read “unvaccinated” on them to municipal meetings in order to illustrate the similarities between being unvaccinated today with being Jewish in 1940s Germany. Seeing the pictures of these people smiling as they boast their yellow star pins is truly sickening. The brutal murder of ten million people should never be used as a talking point to further a person’s selfish political agenda. They are in no way the same.

Photo credit: “Westway Diner” by Elvert Barnes is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0