Vaccine Mandates across the Country

Quetzalcoatl Dalupan, Staff Writer

Washington’s state workers have been placed under a vaccine mandate in an attempt to slow COVID-19 spread. As COVID-19 spreads through the country, many search for ways to overcome the virus. Each state attempted to implement requirements or safety recommendations to do so.

With a population of over 7.5 million, Washington state has a large ratio of vaccinated to unvaccinated citizens. According to the Washington Department Of Health, “As of October 25, 78.6% of Washingtonians 12 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 72.5% of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated,”resulting in it having lower COVID rates than other areas of the US. Alongside a new deadline Oct. 18, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee has set a vaccine mandate for workers all across Washington state. The number of vaccinated workers is expected to rise.

Exactly who will be affected by the mandate can be seen on WAVaccineMandateFAQ, which states, “The proclamation requires all state employees, higher education, childcare, and K-12 education employees, and most health and long-term care providers to be fully vaccinated with a recommended COVID-19 vaccine by October 18, 2021 as a condition of employment.” As the vaccination is now a “condition of employment,” many state workers have quit or retired in response to said mandate, some stating it is a “violation of workers rights.” A large portion of the police force quit as reported by TheNewsTribune, “Eleven percent of the troopers working in Pierce and Thurston counties chose to leave the Washington State Patrol rather than be vaccinated.” This number does not include workers who have retired or were forced to quit for other reasons. As police often have to show up in person, it may help the spread of COVID-19. Junior Hudson Olbricht states, “It doesn’t matter if the person who comes to save you is vaccinated.” In contrast, freshmen Charles Corcoran states; “If you’re not vaccinated, you could easily spread it.” Although difficult to put into scale, TheDailyCase has reported on the effects of COVID-19 on the police force: “Of the 264 police officers who died in the line of duty in 2020 across the United States, more than half died of COVID-19, according to new data compiled by The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.” As the data may have been affected by other factors, TheDailyCase reports that “the data covers the full 12 months of 2020 and shows that the number of officers who died from COVID-19 is higher than that of any other cause.”

As vaccination requirements in private businesses become more popular across the country, many questions and doubts about the vaccine have also risen. When asked about the vaccine, sophomore Giada Olivia states, “It’s good for our safety. It’s meant to keep us safe.” During quarantine times, many businesses have suffered from both a lack of workers as well as a lack of customers. Following the vaccine mandate, there have been reports about workers quitting jobs other than police work or firefighting. Some schools are also requiring vaccinations to attend class or extracurricular activities, raising some concern around the country, especially for children and young preteens.

The vaccine being required for jobs or school events has caused a debate over personal choices, with some stating people who do not want the vaccine should not be at risk for losing their job because of it. Senior Danielle Levins states, “Only those with a medical exemption.” While some of the population do experience a medical condition severe enough to not be required a vaccine, a vast majority of Americans are eligible for the vaccine, with only those working full time from home not being required to get the vaccination in any state.

There is a very high demand for workers to be fully vaccinated due to many previous COVID-19 restrictions being lifted or loosened. Travel, whether it be cross country, international, or just around town, has been on the rise. This has potentially been the cause of the continuous COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in comparison to other countries with stricter mandates. With the holidays coming up, the number can only be expected to rise even more with many visiting family and unknowingly spreading the virus to those who may be unvaccinated or more vulnerable to it. The slowly rising demand for workers or customers to be fully vaccinated may help to lower future COVID rates, especially in the elderly as well as young children in densely populated areas.

The Washington vaccine mandate may spell out a future of more vaccine mandates across the country, it may also pave the way for future anti-vaccine protests as seen by the previous year in which many protests have taken place across the country. While many are opinionated on how harsh vaccine requirements are or should be, we can expect a big jump in COVID-19 cases during the holiday season unless more citizens get vaccinated.