Dissenters face hard choices now, and in coming weeks
By Guy Page
With ‘vax or test’ deadlines looming, working Vermonters reluctant to vax, test, and/or “attest” are examining their options. Here’s are three real-life situations Vermont Daily Chronicle heard over the weekend –
- From an employee at a health care agency that, like UVM Medical Center, as of next week will require either vaccination or weekly testing. She finds both procedures unnecessary and invasive. For her it’s a choice of three evils: 1) allow a (from her perspective) potentially dangerous, ineffective not-really-a-vaccine to be injected into her body, 2) submit to a painful, invasive weekly PCR test known to have both false negatives and positives and scheduled to be discontinued by the FDA this December, or lose her job.
“I feel like I have a gun to my head,” she told Vermont Daily Chronicle.
- From an employee of an elected county law enforcement official who has agreed to go along with Gov. Scott’s requirement that all state employees “attest” to vaccination or face weekly testing. His boss, elected by the voters of a particular county, seemingly didn’t have to agree with the governor. But he did, anyway. The employee doesn’t understand why. What he does understand is that under no circumstances will he “get the jab.”
From a state employee at the military firing range in Jericho: “While I am fully vaccinated, I chose not to sign the attestation form due to my strong disagreement about the policy. Therefore I will have to submit to weekly testing and wear a facial covering at work.
“Here at the Military Department we are severely understaffed due to Montpelier not giving us the correct number of employee positions needed to make sure we can properly maintain a training site for service members from all over the country and world. The fact that the governor can pull resources to develop the logistics around this testing plan while we are barely able to keep the range running properly is infuriating.”
Objecting state employees should not expect any backup from their union, the VSEA. According to its Sept. 24 newsletter, a ‘side letter’ approved by union negotiators has essentially agreed with the Scott administration: “under the vaccine requirement, an employee can elect to sign an attestation form to attest that the employee is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or the employee will be subject to regular weekly COVID-19 testing and masking requirements.”
According to the sideletter, state employees who fail to comply:
Will be placed in an authorized off payroll status (AOFF) for a period not to exceed five (5) workdays to reconsider complying with the program’s requirements. Authorized off payroll is unpaid leave.
b. Any employee who fails to comply within the five (5) workday period, will be placed on an Unpaid Administrative Leave of Absence until such time as they decide to comply, or the mitigation measures are lifted. An Unpaid Administrative Leave of Absence is unpaid leave and benefits (example: an employee would need to pay 100% of health insurance premiums).
2. Falsification of an Attestation form will be considered gross misconduct and addressed through the normal disciplinary processes.
Customers also are getting the “vax or else” message from some businesses. A health-conscious Chittenden County nurse is upset that her gym – the Edge in Essex Junction – now requires that “all members, guests, patients, and program participants entering an EDGE facility who are eligible (12 years or older) must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.”
“Can they really do this?,” the nurse asks. “Now I cannot go to swim or train there. Do I have any recourse?”
“She received this emailed response from a friend: ‘Personally, I’d drop them like a moldy orange. And tell them they are no longer welcome on your personal wellness team because the vax is too risky a choice for you. They don’t even give mask or testing options. Shame on them. Furthermore, I would demand a refund of any unused membership as THEY have recklessly, unilaterally changed the agreement. And then I would take to social media and encourage others to do likewise. If I were still an Edge member, that’s what I would do. I am at Planet Fitness – no pool but otherwise better in every way.’
Will Vermont employers take a hard line and risk losing employees and customers who won’t follow the protocols? Time will tell.
Meanwhile, at least one Vermont pharmacy refusing to fill ivermectin prescriptions for Covid-19 appears to have the full backing of its corporate offices. Matthew Blanchette, CVS Pharmacy corporate media spokesperson, told Vermont Daily Chronicle Saturday: “While we do not have a policy that restricts our pharmacies from filling prescriptions for Ivermectin, the FDA has made it clear that people should not use this medication to treat or prevent COVID-19. Our pharmacists are empowered to use their professional judgment when reviewing a prescription and a prescriber’s diagnosis.”