Letters to the Editor: A social psychologist explains why vaccine mandates are essential

People in masks stand around a table next to a sign that says, in part, "COVID-19 vaccine clinic: Vaccination area."
Montague Charter Academy for the Arts and Sciences in Arleta hosts a pop-up vaccination clinic on Monday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Consider the cognitive dissonance of anti-vaccine holdouts. (“Separate restaurants for vaccinated and not? It may come to that,” column, July 31)

They have spent months marshaling their views, with the support of their friends and chosen conspiracy websites. They consider themselves to be smart and competent and their fears of the vaccine justified. Most of their friends support them.

How likely are they, then, to suddenly change their minds and say, “Gee, guess I was wrong and foolish not to get vaccinated”? Not very.


But a mandate would allow them to get the shot and save face: “I’m angry, but what could I do? I need this job.” And dissonance theory also predicts that, once they do, their attitudes will change to align with their action: “I always knew vaccines were life-savers.”

Carol Tavris, Los Angeles

The writer is a social psychologist who specializes in cognitive dissonance.


To the editor: Steve Lopez writes about the idea of restaurants exclusively for customers vaccinated against COVID-19. It is already happening in Europe.

Last month, my husband and I visited the Acropolis museum in Athens, Greece. While there we decided to dine in the museum’s café.

There were big signs saying the café is a COVID-19-free zone. We didn’t know what that meant until we sat down and the server asked to see our proof of vaccination before taking our order. Luckily the photos of our vaccination cards we keep on our phones were accepted, and we were served.


Jeff Garber, San Diego


To the editor: If anyone, including “non-medical professionals,” can report to the government-run Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, then let’s flood it with “events.”

I suggest: “I don’t need Viagra anymore,” or, “The hair on my head is growing back,” or, “My abs now look like Caeleb Dressel’s.”

The pandemic would be over in two months.

Bob Kahn, Pacific Palisades