Gov. Charlie Baker made the right decision to require all state employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Massachusetts’ real estate and financial firms should consider the same.
Baker announced the mandate late last week. Covering around 42,000 Executive Department workers, it takes effect Oct. 17 and covers both remote and in-person workers. Employees – including managers – who refuse but who cannot obtain an exemption on sincere religious or medical grounds will be “subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination,” Baker’s office said.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is the best and most effective way people can protect themselves, their loved ones and their community from the virus,” Baker’s office said in explaining the move.
As State House News reported, the move has enthusiastic backing from SEIU 509, one of the biggest unions representing state employees. The move comes as many government bodies, from the office of the Attorney General to the city of Boston, announce their own vaccine mandates.
It shouldn’t need repeating that COVID-19 must be treated with a deadly seriousness matching its deadly abilities. The Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, while not absolute proof against preventing infection, significantly boost the chances of it. Moreover, getting vaccinated helps protect one’s friends, family, neighbors, customers and coworkers.
While right-wing talking heads and conspiracy theorists like to falsely cast the issue as one of “personal freedoms,” this is anything but. No one has a right to spray bullets from a machine gun into a crowd. Neither do they have the right to walk through a crowd, spraying coronavirus particles with every breath.
The trio of Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines are by far the best way to disarm the deadly weapon we all can become if infected by boosting our immune systems’ defenses. Just look at the data: While “breakthrough” cases of COVID-19 are on the rise, they represent a small fraction of the vaccinated population. And even if vaccine effectiveness declines from the original estimates of 80 percent to 95 percent, as new research is suggesting it does over time, any increase in the chance of preventing infection or severe disease and hospitalization is vital.
With such an all-consuming pandemic, this is a time when America’s businesses must step up and do their part. Just as in past wars, when businesses put their shoulders to the wheel and supported the national drive to victory, they have a responsibility to do the same here. Each vaccine mandate – especially if coupled with increased insurance premiums for vaccine holdouts, as some firms do with smokers, and the granting of time off to get shots – adds another piece of armor to our defenses against this deadly virus.
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