Vaccine hesitancy was continually shamed by Governor Jay Inslee and was shamed again on Saturday in an interview on cross section. People who do not get vaccinated or boosted, according to the governor, make a irresponsible choice, holding the rest of us back and – wait for it – listening to Donald Trump. Alternatively, getting vaccinated and boosted protects you and others, according to the Governor’s story.
This is the justification, after all, for his discriminatory vaccination mandate on state employees, educators, first responders and other healthcare workers – a mandate he says will not go away, even if we know that people contract and spread COVID-19 regardless of their vaccination status.
When will it disappear? “It’s not today. We will make that decision when it makes sense.”
I’m not sure that will ever make sense to this governor. He’s proud of the punitive mandate, saying requiring some employees to be vaccinated is responsible for fewer deaths in Washington state. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of people who die from or with COVID-19 are people outside of working age. It also ignores comparative state data showing that the four states that beat us in the lowest cumulative death rates per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention, did not have vaccination mandates for government employees (Alaska and Utah) or did but allowed alternatives to be tested (Hawaii and Vermont). Learn more about this here.
When asked for proof that the vaccine’s mandate on employment was recognized for better health outcomes, the governor could not offer it. Instead, he compared us to Mississippi, the state with the highest death rate, and insisted his decisions saved 19,000 lives.
When asked why there was no COVID-19 vaccination mandate for school children, Inslee explained that the State Board of Health had recently decided not to have one. He said that while the council was clearly in favor of vaccination, there were fears that many children would leave public schools if there was a mandate. (See my previous blog on this decision.) Inslee said he would not order vaccination mandates in schools and added that many children are not being vaccinated “because parents listened too much to Donald Trump.”
It’s just silly. First, far from being opposed to the vaccines he claims to have created, Donald Trump has repeatedly advocated vaccination, even if he disapproves of school mandates. People who are hesitant about getting a shot are unlikely to follow the advice of the man who brought us Operation Warp Speed.
Parents are not stupid or easily influenced. And just last week, hesitation received more street cred when the FDA imposed new restrictions on Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, believing that the risk of developing a rare but life-threatening blood clot syndrome from the vaccine outweighs the benefits of the vaccine for people over 18 who have access to other COVID-19 vaccines.
Both vaccines and COVID-19 pose risks: Patient-centered health care must come first when Washingtonians make their decisions, rather than job mandates that only succeed in forcing some workers to do something. something they don’t want to do. Patient-centered messaging, rather than ostracism, might also have a better chance of raising the already high level of state vaccination rate.
Parents do their research and talk to sources willing to discuss the strengths and limitations of vaccines.
Regarding king county numbers tell me that a new post and more discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of vaccines is needed. Figures suggest that if you are in the age range of 12 to 29, you are more likely to have contracted COVID-19 in the last 30 days than if you only received the first two doses or if you are not fully vaccinated. Note that this trend does not hold for older age groups. In them, the contraction of COVID-19 is much more likely in people who are not fully vaccinated.
This doesn’t necessarily mean boosters are useless, of course. This could mean that vaccinated and boosted people in younger age groups are testing more. The numbers could show vaccinated and boosted members of this age group moving more freely around the state and in groups — without worrying about harm from COVID-19. It would also mean that vaccinated and boosted people could be of equal or greater concern for the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Yet the remaining restrictions are still almost entirely for the unvaccinated.
Parents, the primary advocates for their children, weigh all this information, many choosing not to be pressured by a government and society that has made outcasts of unvaccinated citizens.
The governor’s messages suggesting vaccination checks are spreading are not only wrong but reckless. This adds to the fact that some people feel invincible to COVID-19 when they shouldn’t, while pitting people against each other unnecessarily. We contract and spread COVID-19 because we come together and are social beings, not because we are vaccinated or not.
While vaccines seem to help with hospitalization and death, it’s time for the rest of the story and the inclusion of numbers that don’t quite fit the desired scenario.
Penalizing workers for not vaccinating is so spring 2021. We know a lot more now, and hospitalizations and deaths are down. They were considered low enough to lift a state mask mandate, after all.
So when will the discriminatory vaccine mandate end? “When it makes sense…which it doesn’t at the moment,” inslee said Saturday. Service levels and the economic security of workers will continue to suffer.