This commentary is by Tom Evslin of Stowe, an entrepreneur, author and former Douglas administration official. It is republished from the Fractals of Change blog.
Workers who have contact with either coworkers or the public should be required to get vaccinations. Kudos to companies like United Airlines who have announced mandatory vaccinations. We all get to vote on decisions these companies make when we’re deciding whom to patronize — or where to take a job.
Half a kudo to University of Vermont Medical Center for encouraging vaccination; but only half because they are leaving employees the choice of periodic testing instead of vaccination. And only half a kudo to UVM itself which is requiring students but not faculty and staff to be vaccinated.
Governor Scott announced that some state workers dealing with vulnerable populations will be required to get vaccinations but that there may be some sort of “exit ramp.” He’s done a great job of leading through the pandemic and certainly deserves much credit for Vermont’s leading the nation in vaccination rate; but, with all due respect, the exit ramp for those not wanting to get vaccinated, should be termination. For the sake of both their coworkers and the public, all state workers who are not working strictly from home should be vaccinated. We have a choice of airlines, but we don’t have an immediate choice of which state we’re dealing with.
Employers are having a hard time finding employees and some are afraid that a vaccination mandate will exacerbate the situation. However, I’m sure that there are many people who would prefer to work for an employer who assures that all coworkers are vaccinated. If that turns out not to be the case, government mandates like those requiring safe workplaces put all employers on a level playing field.
People can quit if they don’t want to get vaccinated. However, unvaccinated people should not be eligible for any of the generous COVID benefits available from the state and federal government.
It doesn’t make sense to say that people need to be vaccinated as a condition of employment and then to subsidize people who choose not to. Want unemployment insurance? Take the jab. Want to defer your student loan payments? Get special covid renters assistance? Have help with your utility bills? Get your shot! It’s bad enough we all must pay for medical care for the unvaccinated (we do have to); but we don’t have to pay other COVID benefits to those who choose to put themselves and others at risk.
The only exemption allowed should be medical – people who can’t get vaccinated without endangering their health. The First Amendment gives broad protection to religion; but doesn’t say that you don’t have to live with the consequences of your religious decisions. If your religion won’t let you get vaccinated, then it doesn’t let you have a job where you might infect other people or to attend public school.
Politics are the virus’ best friend. Before the election D’s said they didn’t trust a vaccine developed on Trump’s watch. After the election way too many R’s are resisting vaccination seemingly because they are being urged to vaccinate by a Democratic president. Operation Warp Speed and the successful vaccines which resulted are indubitably the greatest achievement of the Trump administration. Why Trump himself doesn’t claim that and urge all his supporters to take “his” beautiful vaccine is beyond me, especially if he wants them to be around to vote in the future. Biden might be more successful with some of the recalcitrant if he gave Trump some credit.
It defies belief that the Republican Governors of Florida and Texas, who call themselves conservatives, want to ban private companies from offering the public products at least some consumers want such as cruises for the vaccinated only and an airline which requires crew to be vaccinated.
But there’s plenty of blame to go around. The only semi-legitimate excuse for not getting vaccinated is the CDC’s incredible failure to give full approval to vaccines after what is probably the largest science experiment in the history of the planet. This is the kind of problem presidents must solve.
After the Declaration of Independence and well before the Constitution, Gen. Washington required the troops under his command in Boston to get vaccinated. Vaccinations have been required for children to begin public school for at least the 73 years since I went to kindergarten. The middle of a pandemic is very strange time to get squeamish over vaccinations as a matter of conscience.
Generations of American men have been drafted. Thanks to those draftees, we’re free to complain about government mandates. The draft required them to put their lives and bodies at risk in a much more significant way than taking a well-tested vaccine. By the way, all us inductees, whether drafted or volunteering, got a battery of shots in the first days of basic training.
We are at war against COVID. Uncle Sam has a right – perhaps an obligation – to draft all of us for this war. If you are fully vaccinated, thank you for your service. If not, roll up your sleeve!