It was only a matter of time before the pandemic came for your job.
That’s how some people who refuse to get the vaccine might see it, at least. Get the jab or see the door. Don’t let it hit you on the way out. Your years of service aren’t considered, and your dedication is forgotten. Hasta la vista, vaxxy.
This will be the view of some people regardless of the time or circumstances, though this maneuver certainly isn’t new. Governments have used money to control people for, well, forever. There’s a reason the drinking age is 21 in America — the federal government threatened to withhold highway dollars over it.
And now it’s come to this: A state mandate requires most health care workers to be vaccinated by this past Thursday. Otherwise, at least in the case of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, they will lose their jobs.
To this we say: It’s about time.
Those claiming to stand up for personal and medical freedom rarely seem to contemplate that, logically, others would have those same freedoms. Few people have an unfettered right to a job with no restrictions. Plenty of us must wear uniforms to work. Our jobs restrict us from driving while inebriated. Some prohibit marijuana use, whether on or off the job.
Why, then, should an employer not be able to require a worker to receive an inoculation against mumps, or the flu, or tetanus?
Or even the coronavirus?
The argument that an employee can refuse to take the vaccine when the employer demands it, and keep their job, means personal freedom only flows in one direction. Imagine telling your boss you’ll decide when to start work each day, or that you don’t need to wash your hands before preparing food.
Our public institutions like hospitals, as well as common sense, demand that this not be the case.
Anyone who works at Sierra Nevada Medical Center can choose against getting the vaccine. They will not be forced to get it.
Much like no one can search your vehicle at the Truckee bug station without your OK. You just can’t continue driving your car into California if you refuse.
But, in the case of these health care workers, there is an alternative. Despite protestations from the anti-vaxxers, exemptions exist. A qualifying medical condition, or religious belief, can get these workers out of taking the shot. They’d just have to always wear a mask and get tested twice a week for COVID-19 in these cases.
This mandate isn’t for tech workers in their cubicles, or people who sell cars, or any host of occupations. It is for those who interact with the sick and infirm, with those who don’t expect to get the coronavirus when they go to the hospital with a broken bone or for an appendectomy.
Politics will always seep into every discussion and issue, especially in our current climate. In many cases there’s time to dig into these issues and have real, civil argument over the course our country should take.
That’s true even now with the vaccine. We had this discussion during the long, dark months without a vaccine, and over the past several months with it.
We can continue to have this discussion about mandates for any number of professions. There is room for talk on natural immunity, and boosters, and further studies, and developing science.
Rules and restrictions no doubt will change. Some will fade away while others take center stage. Who knows what our state and country will look like a year from now?
But right now, when it comes to health care workers, this is the rule. And it’s not about personal freedom, or a lack of it, or government control.
It’s not about someone coming for your job. It’s about the coronavirus coming for us.
And we’re going to do something about it.
The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at [email protected]