Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Horrified Anti-Vaxxers Have Increasingly Bad Week

It was really remarkable, this week that the very same day I published an op-ed urging we all be vaccinated before returning to work, that Mayor de Blasio announced all city workers would either be vaccinated or tested weekly. (If I were de Blasio, I'd impose the same condition on students eligible to be vaccinated, and push as hard as I could to make sure younger students are eligible ASAP.)

This is a reasonable position for the city, and I'm glad to see de Blasio finally step up and do something right ahead of time. I understand some people cannot take the vaccine for medical reasons, and they do have an option here. 

It appears anti-vaxxers are going to have a national setback as well. President Biden will require vaccinations (or regular testing) for federal workers, and is set to announce it tomorrow. It's good to see that model replicated nationally. In fact, Eva Moskowitz was well ahead of this curve, requiring all her employees to be vaccinated well before these announcements. I'm far from a Moskowitz fan, but she was absolutely right in this, at least.

I've gotten chances to see a lot of reactions from UFT members, and I'm surprised by many of them. While I understand disagreement, it's tough for me to understand it without reason. Some people said my op-ed was poorly written, which might be valid if they'd offered reasons. Others said I'm not a doctor, which is certainly true. However, it doesn't mean I haven't seen and considered medical opinions. Others suggested my left-wing bias rendered my opinion invalid. It's true 

I freely admit my left-wing bias. I'm a worker and union advocate. I oppose child labor and support weekends. I think medical care should be universal. I think every working American should receive a living wage. I think schools should be public, not profit centers for people like Eva Moskowitz (who admittedly squeaks by on less than a million a year). I'm sure I have other outrageous positions. 

The right-wing seems to be in crisis. Former Trump spokesperson Sarah Sanders is now dubbing it the Trump vaccine and urging people to get it, or pray about it, or something. I mean, it's simply not smart politics for the GOP to allow its supporters to get sick and die. You've concurrently got people like Tucker Carlson railing against vaccine campaigns. If I were a Fox viewer, I might be confused. Here's the story of a man hospitalized with Covid-related pneumonia who still refuses the vaccine. 

Now some people say the state has no right to put things (like vaccines) in your body, or things (like Covid tests) in your nose. I suppose you could say that's true, in a sense. For example, when the school nurse comes into my classroom to tell students they need to get vaccinated, she never ties them down and forces needles into their arms. Instead, she says if you don't get vaccinated by such and such a date, you will not be permitted to return to school.

Now I'm supposing, if city and federal workers refuse to get vaccinated or tested, results will be similar. My best guess is step one would be unpaid leave. If you want to take that principled stand, I guess that's where you'd be. There is, in fact, a south Florida school run by anti-vaxxers that won't hire anyone vaccinated. I suppose if you want to fight for your freedom to work unvaccinated, that could be a great opportunity. (Of course, like many Florida schools, it's almost certainly non-union, low wage, and terrible working conditions.)

Of course, I wouldn't send my kid to that school on a bet. I wouldn't even visit the site. Florida now leads the country in Covid cases, and that school has to be one of the riskiest sites in this riskiest state. Maybe those school leaders long for the good old days of smallpox, tuberculosis, or are just hoping we don't ruin this great Covid thing. Who knows?

However, you still have the freedom to refuse. Like my students, though, you have to face the consequences. There's the option of being tested rather than vaccinated. You're lucky to have that, because in Nevada they're looking at passing the costs of testing onto those who refuse the vaccine. That's not happening here. Of course if you refuse both, you have the freedom of finding some other form of employment.

Now it's entirely true I'm not a doctor. But one things doctors pledge is to do no harm. That's the least we ought to expect from them, and frankly, it's also the least children should expect from us. I'm ready to go back, and I'm ready to fight for the health and safety of both UFT members and the students we serve.

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