Who wants to send their loved one into a retirement facility or nursing home without assurance that all the staff are vaccinated against Covid? We do not. Who wants to go in for treatment at a hospital or clinic without knowing all the staff are vaccinated from Covid? We absolutely do not. Who wants to go into a bank where some of the tellers and bank officers may be asymptomatic transmitters of the delta variant? Not us. Who wants to go past a security guard transmitting the delta variant? No thanks. We do not want to be around carriers of delta since our vaccine protection is not 100%. And who wants to send their beloved child to a Mississippi college or university that fails to require the vaccination? We would not.
Businesses have every right to insist employees get vaccinated to assist in protecting the safety of the workplaces and in protecting the business’ customers. Similarly, colleges and universities have every right to insist that their students become vaccinated before campus enrollment to protect fellow students and faculty. That is only reasonable. The dangers of the delta variant are known; employers and educational institutions are on notice of them. True, vaccinated people have important protections against delta, but those protections are not total. Further, new dangerous variants continue to emerge from unvaccinated persons. Even vaccinated employees and students would have a justifiable fear that an unvaccinated person at some point will compromise their protection from the vaccines.
Unvaccinated employees and students may protest they have freedom to choose or avoid any obligation to protect other employees, customers, students, and faculty. All that is true, but business and educational employers have a right to remind objecting employees and students that they are just as free to choose a different job, college, or university. The requirement of any employee or student should be first to protect everyone by getting vaccinated.
Many employees and students have an obligation by agreement to maintain personal appearance and decorum. An employee or student may think he has no obligation to bathe, but that does not make it so. No one in a business or university wants to be around an unclean person for hygienic reasons; and no one wants to be around an employee or student either who refuses the hygiene of covid vaccination.
Why should employers or educators put up with employees or students who row about getting the vaccine for everyone’s protection? We are weary of hearing people whining or spreading disinformation on social media about freedoms or liberty to disregard the safety of others. Stop already!
In his June decision recognizing the right of the private Houston Methodist Hospital to dismiss a recalcitrant nurse refusing the vaccine, US District Judge Lynn Hughes put it best: “Every employment includes limits on the worker’s behavior in exchange for his remuneration. That is all part of the bargain.” Yes, we hear the assertions made in the media of freedom to act seemingly without caring for the safety of others. No employer or educator should have to stand for it or make those they serve stand for it.
Liberty carries with it a citizen’s obligations. One set of obligations in Mississippi are the state’s long standing vaccine mandates for students to show they have received polio, MMR, and Hepatitis B shots for the protection of everyone. In the case of the Covid vaccine, invoking such obligations in a timely way during pandemic requires employer and education vaccine mandates. Consider this: Army Times reported July 1 it had learned: “The Army has directed commands to prepare to administer mandatory COVID-19 vaccines as early as Sept. 1, pending full Food and Drug Administration licensure”. Permanent use authorizations for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are widely expected late August or early September.
The mandates are coming. Mississippi employers and institutions of higher learning need to get ready by September at the latest to mandate the Covid vaccine. It will take employer and education mandates of the vaccine in Mississippi to move the state away from the paralysis created by unfounded vaccine hesitancy. In a free society all citizens have a right to expect a safe workplace, a safe medical facility, a safe care home, and a safe college, or university.
It’s not just workplaces and universities we are exercised about. We are now impatient with those who will not cooperate to bring a swift end to the pandemic. We need the world back to normal. We all need to live, work, and travel as before. We ask: why should anyone’s baseless, misinformed, misleading, irrational, irrelevant or disingenuous fears and excuses get to stop our freedom for the pursuit of happiness? The pursuit of happiness in work or travel without the fears and limitations of this unremitting age of fever is possible only by widespread vaccinations getting everybody back to normal. Ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all Mississippians is the highest duty and should be the governing consideration.
Employers and college and university educators: we urge you to get ready by September to mandate employee and student vaccinations pending full FDA authorizations, or earlier. Vaccine mandates will end Mississippi’s vaccine hesitancy to clear the path from pandemic to normal.
David Dzielak is the former Director of Mississippi Medicaid. Robert Wise is a Northsider.