by Guy Page
Today, the Scott administration announced Vermonters who have received both shots of the two-stage vaccination may travel to other states. Gov. Scott also acknowledged the need to discuss an important public policy question: how will the State of Vermont deal with Vermonters who decline vaccination?
H.283, providing the right to refuse any unwanted test, treatment, or vaccine, was introduced yesterday into the Vermont House. Sponsored by four Republicans, a Democrat, and an independent, it would specifically prevent employers and state government from requiring vaccination in exchange for jobs, travel, childcare and other benefits.
“The yearlong pandemic emergency response has left many people concerned about one-sized-fits-all medical mandates,” a Feb. 18 statement by Health Choice Vermont said. “This proposed legislation protects individual bodily autonomy and self-sovereignty, and prevents public and private entities from requiring medical treatments, interventions or vaccines in exchange for employment, travel, education, childcare, religion, benefits, insurance, or participation in sports, camps, or other recreation.”
H.283 has been assigned to the Vermont House Committee on Human Services. The bill is sponsored by: Rep. Vicki Strong (R-Albany), Rep. Lynn Batchelor (R- Derby), Rep. Mark Higley (R-Lowell), Rep. Warren Kitzmiller (D-Montpelier), Rep. Robert LaClair (R-Barre Town) and Rep. Paul Lefebvre (I-Newark).
Meanwhile, the New York Times today published a prominent editorial warning readers of “the costs of vaccine alarmism.” It concedes the problem:
- A third of U.S. military have declined vaccination;
- polls say nearly half of Americans would refuse if offered vaccine now;
- skepticism is highest among minorities, white people without college degrees, Republicans, and lower-income households.
Many people hear they would still transmit the disease and must still wear a mask and social distance, and ask, “what’s the point?,” the NYT editorial says. It faults public health officials for not clearly saying that vaccines are safe and effective.
In a statement published today, Health Choice Vermont offers more detailed data about public resistance to vaccination:
- A Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report showed that 29% of hospital staff and 27% of the general public “definitely or probably would not get vaccinated.”
- According to the KFF, the main reason cited was concern over the side effects (59%).
- A December 2020 survey from the Pew Research Center  of over 12,000 Americans revealed that 39% surveyed say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine.
- In the report, 21% of U.S. adults are cited as saying they are, “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind.
- 62% of participants reported that they would be “uncomfortable” to be among the first to receive the vaccine.
- The Los Angeles Times recently reported  that L.A. county data shows that between 20% and 40% of all frontline workers refused to be vaccinated.
- The same report mentions that in Riverside County, California, around 50% of frontline workers have said “no thank you” to the experimental nucleic acid vaccine.
- Less than half of the eligible staff at St. Elizabeth Community Hospital took the vaccine when offered.
- The U.K. government has released a document  in December advising that pregnant or breastfeeding women do not receive a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine on the basis that there is “no or limited data” on the effects to the child and to fertility. “For women of childbearing age, pregnancy should be excluded before vaccination,” the document stated.
- The Los Angeles Times article mentioned above also reported that a pregnant nurse from Providence Holy Cross Medical Center who refused to be vaccinated. Why are we vaccinating pregnant women with an untested vaccine?
Nursing Home Staff
- The Associated Press reports that, “National polls show that as many as 70 percent of long-term care staff are still wary of the vaccine.”
- Governor Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), stated in a press conference on December 30 that 60% of nursing home staff in his state had declined the experimental nucleic acid vaccine.
- In New York, a survey of 2000 firefighters revealed that 55% said they would not take the emergency use only vaccine from Pfizer. More than 2,000 firefighters participated, representing about a quarter of all members.
- Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), which performed the survey, is encouraging members to get vaccinated, but says it will protect the rights of those who chose not to.
- “The reasons for that are probably the same reasons everyone else doesn’t want it: it is a new vaccine, they don’t have enough information,” said Andrew Ansbro, UFA president.
58% of Vermonters 75 and older have been vaccinated, Human Services Secretary Mike Smith said. A month ago, Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine said health care provider and senior care facility patient acceptance rates were both about 80%, but senior care staff rates were lower.
At his press conference today, Gov. Phil Scott acknowledged the need for dialogue – on both a state and national level – about how to handle employment, travel and childcare as restrictions are lifted. “We have to have the conversation,” he said, without expressing a specific stand on the issue.
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