Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Anti-Vaxxers Get Us Nowhere

It's a funny year we have coming up. I made a last minute decision not to retire just yet and I'm going back. But this year looks almost as strange as last year, and it's hard to make sense of what's coming. 

I remain amazed that the right wing has managed to make fundamental safety a political football. In Florida, the MAGA governor doesn't want mask requirements. One unvaccinated teacher removed a mask to read a story and managed to infect half the students. Of course they brought the infections home to their families. Thankfully, they all recovered. 

Despite that, the ICUs are still full or close to capacity down there, even as infections decrease, for now at least. That, evidently, is due to higher vaccination rates. I wonder whether the offending teacher is among those opting for vaccination. 

Here in NY, things may be different, given the mandate for vaccinations. From a recent Times article:

About 75 percent of teachers who live in New York City have received at least one dose of a vaccine. By contrast, only about 43 percent of Police Department employees have been vaccinated.

Mr. Mulgrew has estimated that 70 or even 80 percent of his members are vaccinated, regardless of where they live, but his union also lacks definitive numbers.

I'd conjecture that Mulgrew is right, but of course conjecture is all it is. I'm in a Facebook teacher chat group in which I regularly post on this topic, and those opposed to the mandate are pretty vehement about it. Some say they'll leave their jobs rather than get vaccinated. We shall soon see. It also appears that fewer than half of the Trump supporting NYPD are vaccinated. It's a freedom thing, you know, even though Trump himself is vaccinated, as are all governors, even in Florida and Texas. 

Then there's the argument that you can get infected even if you are vaccinated. So why bother? I saw someone write the only effect the vaccine has is saving your own life. How selfish, to save your own life. A truly bold person, evidently, would risk dropping dead on a ventilator for no good reason. And some have. One Texas anti-mask proponent, battling "Covid-19 tyranny," first took Ivermectin and then ended up dying after a month in the hospital. A Georgia sheriff pushing Ivermectin, just joined the ranks of the dead. An anti-vax lawyer for the capital rioters is on a ventilator.

Here on earth, we look to the CDC for guidance. While some still oppose vaccines mandated as useless, CDC says that most people who get COVID are unvaccinated. They add the following:

  • The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent infection by Delta or other variants is to get vaccinated.
  • For people who are vaccinated and still get infected (i.e., “breakthrough infections”), there is a risk of transmission to others.
  • That is why, if you are vaccinated or unvaccinated and live or work in an area with substantial or high transmission of COVID-19, you – as well as your family and community – will be better protected if you wear a mask when you are in indoor public places.

So it's hard for me to understand why people hang onto this stuff. I actually heard Trump say somewhere that he was vaccinated, and that it wasn't a bad idea. Of course, he couldn't say this without blabbering about freedom, and how it's your own decision. 

Every year nurses come into my classroom and announce to various students that they need to be vaccinated or they can't return to class. I see no reason why we ought to be exempt from mandates for students. In fact, I see no reason why students ought to be exempt from mandates for teachers. If I were the mayor, I'd mandate that every student over 12 needs to be vaccinated.

Of course I'm not the mayor. The mayor has other concerns. Likely his overriding concern is getting all NYC schoolchildren back into buildings. The mayor, in his infinite wisdom, has determined there will be no remote instruction this year. After having provided it for over a year, I can't stand remote instruction, This notwithstanding, it's better than dying from COVID, and it's likely that a lot of parents of younger students won't want to send their kids in. 

Mayor de Blasio will enact remote instruction at the last moment, at least for younger unvaccinated students, when he has no other alternative. Because of that, the planning will be, at best, minimal, and the results will be predictable. The lack of a remote option, though, certainly endangers the mask mandate. What if I tell a kid to put a mask on, and the kid refuses? Last year, that kid would be placed into remote classes. This year, what will happen? 

No one knows. That's typical of Mayor de Blasio's planning, which is essentially no planning at all. If I were this unprepared to teach my classes I'd get written up, and eventually removed for incompetence. Mayor de Blasio, on the other hand, will probably run for governor. I'm inclined to predict he'll fail, but if Donald Trump can be President, anything can happen.

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