It’s time for another installment of of our special series COVID-19 Update, bringing you the latest developments on the novel coronavirus outbreak that public health authorities here and across the country are working to mitigate.
Today, governments at every level began rolling out the first of what will be a new series of vaccine mandates, beginning with people who are employed in the public sector. The Department of Defense, with the White House’s backing, was the first out of the door with an important announcement.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced in a message to the force that servicemembers will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by either about one month from now or sooner if the FDA brings one or more vaccines out of emergency approval status and into normal approval status.
“As many of you know, President Biden asked me to consider how and when we might add the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines to the list of those required for all Service members,” said Austin’s bulletin.
“So, over the last week, I have consulted closely with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretaries of the Military Departments, the Service Chiefs, and medical professionals,” Austin continued.
“I appreciate greatly the advice and counsel they provided. Based on these consultations and on additional discussions with leaders of the White House COVID Task Force, I want you to know that I will seek the President’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensure, whichever comes first.”
“I strongly support Secretary Austin’s message to the force today on the Department of Defense’s plan to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for our service members not later than mid-September,” said President Joe Biden following the publication of the bulletin.
“Secretary Austin and I share an unshakable commitment to making sure our troops have every tool they need to do their jobs as safely as possible.”
“These vaccines will save lives. Period. They are safe. They are effective. Over 350 million shots have been given in the United States alone. Being vaccinated will enable our service members to stay healthy, to better protect their families, and to ensure that our force is ready to operate anywhere in the world.”
“We cannot let up in the fight against COVID-19, especially with the Delta variant spreading rapidly through unvaccinated populations. We are still on a wartime footing, and every American who is eligible should take immediate steps to get vaccinated right away. I am proud that our military women and men will continue to help lead the charge in the fight against this pandemic, as they so often do, by setting the example of keeping their fellow Americans safe.”
If they refuse, they will be out of a job.
“Getting vaccinated against COVID is a public good. We have come so close to defeating this deadly disease,” Inslee said at a press conference.
“We have the tool — the vaccine — to get this era behind us. It is safe, it is effective, and you will never regret getting it.”
The Governor opted to use his broad emergency powers to deploy the mandate, issuing a proclamation that can be read in its entirety below:Governor Inslee’s proclamation on requiring vaccinations
Democratic legislative leaders say they support the move.
“Protecting the health and safety of people and communities in our state was a top priority of the legislature’s work this session, and the governor’s announcement today is an important step in stopping the spread of the virus and its variants,” said Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Majority Leader Andy Billig.
“Vaccines are the best defense we have against COVID-19, and that’s why the Legislature put $1.2 billion into making sure people have access to vaccines, as well as contact tracing and testing efforts,” the leaders added.
“State employees and health care providers serve the public. Being vaccinated with a safe, effective vaccine is a simple extension of that commitment.”
“We applaud the governor’s actions to keep Washingtonians safe. As legislative leaders, we strongly encourage our members and staff to get vaccinated, and will be considering possible additional COVID safety steps within the legislative branch as we approach the next legislative session.”
King County and the City of Seattle are mirroring Inslee’s move.
“A healthy King County depends on every eligible resident getting vaccinated. With the Delta variant surging, it is high time for everyone to do their part to protect one another, our children and our economy,” said Executive Dow Constantine. “Joining with the state and the City of Seattle, we’re helping close the vaccination gaps in our community and our workforce, to get everyone across the finish line and move our community forward into recovery.”
“No patient should have to worry about getting COVID-19 from their health care provider, period,” said Jeff Duchin, King County’s public health officer.
“Requiring COVID-19 vaccination for health care personnel protects not only patients and health care workers, but also their families and our community — including those who cannot be vaccinated or do not respond to the vaccine due to being immunocompromised. I thank Governor Inslee for taking this important action as the threat of COVID-19 is increasing locally and nationally.”
“From the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic to today, Governor Inslee, Executive Constantine and I believe in the importance of speaking as one government,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said.
“So many small businesses have stepped up to require vaccines and as some of Washington’s largest employers, we are too. The spread of the delta variant has required that we continue to make decisions that are safe for our employees, their families and our community. There is no doubt that vaccines work, and that they are our best defense against the highly contagious Delta variant.”
“Seattle has led the way by listening to our public health officials- it’s why we have the lowest cases, hospitalizations and deaths of every major city. It is crucial that in our workplaces where we work, eat, have meetings, and laugh together, we make sure we are doing what we can to keep ourselves and our colleagues, our children and families, customers, and members of the public safe from serious illness, hospitalization, or death from this virus.”
As mentioned by Durkan, many businesses have already introduced their own vaccine mandates. Bars in Seattle and Portland have begun requiring vaccination for entry in tandem so as to send a message to patrons and ensure that the unvaccinated aren’t able to simply go somewhere else and endanger others.
The hospitality and entertainment industries are moving in the same direction.
Cruise lines, desperate to get back to normal sailing schedules, are requiring vaccinations of their passengers. Norweigan Cruise Lines today won a huge victory over the anti-science, anti-public health regime of (un-)Governor Ron DeDantis when a federal district court judge barred Florida from enforcing its law against vaccine passports”. This will enable the cruise line to turn away anyone who isn’t vaccinated from its next scheduled sailing out of Miami.
The mandates are necessary, and will save lives
This organization is rolling out a vaccine mandate of its own as it prepares to resume in-person events. Anyone who wants to physically attend a Northwest Progressive Institute event, like our upcoming Eighteenth Anniversary Picnic, will need to be vaccinated. It’s a policy that is in keeping with our values.
As progressives, we believe in empathy, protection, and mutual responsibility… that we look out for each other as well as ourselves. By getting vaccinated, we not only protect ourselves from getting sick or dying, we protect our family members, our neighbors, and our neighbors’ neighbors. Everybody wins.
This is a matter of freedom. To be free from this virus and free of the fear that accompanies it, we must act collectively. The vaccines are the best defense we have against SARS-CoV‑2. They have been proven to be safe and effective.
We won’t see an end to this pandemic without widespread vaccination.
People in other countries are selling their possessions so they can afford to buy vaccines on the black market, yet here in America, we have people who refuse to be vaccinated for free. That’s just absurd, especially given that doses are on the verge of going to waste. It’s apparent that we’ve gotten as far as we can with voluntary vaccination campaigns. Now it’s time to take the next step to save lives.
The other side can be expected to howl about coercion and government overreach. But if there ever was a public policy that could be characterized as the epitome of compassionate and lifesaving, this would be it.
Pretty much the entirety of human history demonstrates that when we try to leave each other to our own devices, bad things happen. That is why we have laws. It is why we have a plan of government with checks and balances built in. And it’s why we now need to implement vaccine mandates.
Getting all of us protected against an incredibly infectious disease that ruthlessly maims and kills is arguably the most pro-life move ever. So let’s get it on.