Dr. Megan Ranney says vaccine mandates alone ‘not sufficient’ for improving vaccination rates

“We also have to address the barriers that continue to block people from getting vaccines.”

Dr. Megan Ranney is warning that vaccine mandates alone won’t be enough to improve vaccination rates as the coronavirus pandemic continues. 

The Rhode Island emergency room physician told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday she has been “shocked” to see that the percentage of people supporting COVID-19 vaccine mandates has only increased minimally, despite the Food and Drug Administration giving full approval to the Pfizer vaccine, with the same treatment expected for the Moderna vaccine soon.

“It shows that mandates, although important at getting a percentage of our population to show up and finally get that shot in the arm, are simply not sufficient,” Ranney said. “We also have to address the barriers that continue to block people from getting vaccines. Things like trouble with transportation or child care or needing sick leave if they happen to have those mild to moderate side effects that last a day or two after the shots.”


Last week, President Joe Biden announced a slew of new vaccine mandates that would affect as many as 100 million Americans in an effort to combat the surge of COVID-19 driven by the highly contagious delta variant. The new rules will require all employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccines or test employees weekly, and medical facilities receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid will also need to have workers fully vaccinated.

The administration is also requiring employees of the executive branch and contractors doing business with the federal government be fully vaccinated, without the option to opt out and receive testing instead.

During her interview, Ranney stressed that communication about the vaccines still also has to be improved to combat misinformation and conspiracy theories about the vaccines. 

“Mandates alone are not going to get the people that believe in the conspiracy theories and the lies to go and get a shot in their arms,” the doctor said. “They’re just going to leave and remove themselves from regular society.”

Ranney also said she wants to see vaccine doses put toward getting people their first shots, rather than providing boosters to the general public. 

Getting everyone vaccinated is what will provide protection to the wider community, she argued, not immediate booster shots. 


“Are we going to need boosters for a third dose, for those of us who got Pfizer or Moderna, at some point? Yes,” she said. “Almost certainly. That’s the way the vaccines work. Are there certain populations that might need boosters now? Yes, we’ve already approved a third dose for people who are immunosuppressed. And … folks who are elderly may need a third shot sooner. But for the rest of us, we don’t need to rush out and get a booster.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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