Mandatory Vaccines

40% Of Workers in Agency Responsible for Screening U.S. Air Travellers Unvaccinated despite Looming Mandate Deadline

It’s not just the U.S. army that appears to be struggling to persuade troops to get fully vaccinated before vaccine mandates get them ordered out. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is responsible for screening air travellers, says 40% of its workers have yet to be inoculated. The Independent has the story.

“We have about 60% of our workforce has been vaccinated, that that number needs to go quite a bit higher over the next few weeks,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said on Wednesday while speaking to CNN.

Because vaccines are only considered effective two weeks after a person receives their final dose, the deadline for being fully vaccinated with Moderna’s mRNA vaccine – which requires a four-week interval between shots – by Mr. Biden’s November 22nd deadline has already passed, and a similar deadline for use of Pfizer’s vaccine is fast approaching on October 18th. …

Not having enough workers available to screen airline passengers could severely hobble U.S. air travel, especially since the November 22nd final deadline would put unvaccinated screeners out of work just days before Thanksgiving, usually the busiest travel day of the year in the U.S.

“We are building contingency plans, for if we do have some staffing shortages as a result of this, but I hope to avoid that,” Pekoske said.

Worth reading in full.

Protests and Strikes Expected as ‘Green Pass’ for Italian Workers Comes into Force

Covid ‘Green Passes’ have come into force in Italy for workers both in the public and private sector, meaning those who choose not to get ‘jabbed’ or haven’t recently tested (costing a small fortune) or recovered from the virus will be suspended from work without pay and could be fined up to €1,500 (£1,270). Workplaces that don’t comply with the rules also face being fined.

Around three million workers haven’t been vaccinated against Covid and strikes and protests are expected to take place in opposition to the new measures in the coming days and weeks. Sky News has the story.

The rule was approved by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet in mid-September…

The pass is already required in Italy to enter museums, theatres, gyms and indoor restaurants, as well as to take long-distance trains and buses or domestic flights.

The workplace requirement has sparked big protests in Rome, with some demonstrators turning violent and clashing with police last weekend.

More unrest is feared and workers at a main port have threatened a strike.

The Government hopes the pass will encourage unvaccinated Italians to get the jab.

According to a Government document seen by Reuters news agency, 15% of private and 8% of public sector workers have no Green Pass.

But under the new rules they can be suspended without pay and fined if they work without it – a move that has been criticised by some.

The right-wing League’s Luca Zaia, Governor of Veneto, said: “We will not be able to grant a swab every 48 hours to all the unvaccinated.

“The business people I am in contact with are extremely worried.”

The UIL union said in a statement: “This is a very restrictive measure that could have a serious impact on social stability and exacerbate an already complicated situation.”

Unions said tests should be free for workers who don’t want to be vaccinated, but the Government said they would be capped at €15.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: How else can we stop these measures other than by stopping the economy, asks a spokesman for striking port workers. BBC News has the story.

“It is time to stop the economy, which is perhaps the only way we can show this Government that many people are struggling,” port workers’ spokesman Stefano Puzzer told Rai TV. “Many will remain without wages, purely because they exercised their free choice of not having the vaccine.” …

Dock workers in Trieste offered to call off their action if the Government delayed making the Green Pass obligatory until the end of October, but that was rejected by Rome.

Also worth reading in full.

Judge Bans New York State from Sacking Health Care Workers Who Refuse to Get Jabbed on Religious Grounds

Following reports that aborted fetal tissue is being used to develop Covid vaccines, a U.S. judge has granted a preliminary injunction allowing health care workers in New York to avoid ‘no jab, no job’ rules on religious grounds. The state’s Govenor says she will “fight this decision” to “keep New Yorkers safe”. MailOnline has the story.

U.S. District Judge David Hurd made the ruling on Tuesday after 17 Catholic and Baptist health care workers sued the state last month, saying they objected to being forced to take a vaccine that used “fetal cell lines” from “procured abortions”.

The order prohibits the New York State Department of Health from interfering with religious exemptions or taking disciplinary action against workers who have sought or obtained them.

Govenor Kathy Hochul, responding to the order, said she backs the vaccine mandate, whose original deadline was September 27th, with the state’s 450,000 medical and care staff expected to have received at least one vaccine dose by that date.

“My responsibility as Governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that. I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe,” she wrote in a statement.

According to the injunction, which was obtained by CNN, the state health department is “barred from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions from Covid vaccination going forward, or with the operation of exemptions already granted”.

The organisation is also prohibited from taking any action on licenses, certifications, residency or other professional status for workers who seek or have obtained religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate.

Christopher Ferrara, the lead counsel for plaintiffs in the case applauded the judge’s ruling.

“With this decision the court rightly recognised that yesterday’s ‘front line heroes’ in dealing with Covid cannot suddenly be treated as disease-carrying villains and kicked to the curb by the command of a state health bureaucracy,” he said in a statement obtained by the news outlet.

Worth reading in full.

Firing Nurses Who’ve Worked Through the Pandemic Is a Disgrace

Across the United States, nurses and other healthcare workers are being fired for not getting vaccinated. Is there any better illustration of the folly of our public health establishment?

These nurses have served on the frontline for more than eighteen months, helping to treat Covid patients day after day, while most of the people demanding vaccine mandates were sitting at home on their laptops.

“Thanks for all your hard work. Oh, you don’t want to get the vaccine? Well in that case, sayonara.” In addition to being mean-spirited, the policy of firing unvaccinated healthcare workers doesn’t really make any practical sense. And that’s putting it charitably.

A large percentage of frontline healthcare workers have already been infected. This means the protection they have against reinfection is actually better than what the vaccines provide.

I reviewed some of the evidence in a recent post. But don’t take my word for it. New undercover footage shows Pfizer scientists saying that natural immunity is “probably” better than immunity from the vaccines.

As I mentioned before, this doesn’t mean that nobody stands to benefit from vaccination. But it does undermine the case for making those who’ve already been infected get the jab. Their natural immunity works just fine.

This point has been made eloquently by the Great Barrington author Martin Kulldorff. In a recent article, he argued that hospitals “should hire, not fire, nurses with natural immunity”. Yet within a matter of hours, Kulldorff’s article had been censored by LinkedIn. (Such petty interference in the scientific debate is now routine on social media.)

So there’s absolutely no case for firing healthcare workers who have natural immunity. What about those who haven’t been previously infected?

Even here, the case for mandates is weak at best. We know that vaccine-induced immunity against infection wanes over time. Six months after vaccination, you’re not that much less likely to become infected than someone who’s never been vaccinated.  

This means that mandating vaccines for healthcare workers is no guarantee of safety. If there’s a ward full of vulnerable patients, ensuring that every nurse is vaccinated won’t necessarily prevent someone from catching Covid, and then spreading it to the rest.

The only surefire way of protecting vulnerable patients is testing everyone before they go into the ward. Positive test? Well, you’ll have to stay at home or work in another part of the hospital for the next few weeks.

There are also the rights of workers themselves to consider. If the vaccines had no side effects and offered lasting protection against infection, the case for mandates would be strong. But the vaccines do have side effects (albeit rare ones) and they don’t provide lasting protection against infection.   

As Oxford philosopher Julian Savulescu argues, autonomy is a core principle of medical ethics, so any policy that violates autonomy (such as mandatory vaccination) can only be justified if it confers substantial third-party benefits. Yet it’s not clear that Covid vaccines do confer such benefits.

What’s more, getting vaccinated isn’t the only way to reduce one’s risk of infection. Avoiding large gatherings is another. Should hospitals be able to require that their staff avoid large gatherings, so as to reduce the risk of infection even further? Most of us would say “no” because it violates individual autonomy.

Of course, keeping Covid out of high-risk hospital wards is an important goal. And although mandatory vaccination is no guarantee of safety, it probably does have some effect, at least for the first few months.

Surely there’s a workaround for nurses who opt against vaccination? For example, they could be tested three times a week until they acquire natural immunity. The costs of such testing could even be deducted from their pay checks (although given the number of unused tests lying around, I don’t see the need).  

Firing healthcare workers who haven’t been infected is mean-spirited and unnecessary. Firing those who have been infected makes no sense at all. Never mind vaccine mandates; we need mandatory training for bureaucrats to make them understand natural immunity.

American Woman Removed From Kidney Transplant Waiting List Because She’s Unvaccinated

We’re used to reading about people being refused work – and even education – because they’ve not been vaccinated against Covid, but it is perhaps a new low that a Colorado woman has been refused medical treatment because she’s not had the jab. Leilani Lutali says she has been marked as “inactive” on a kidney transplant waiting list for her act of “non-compliance”. Sky News has the story.

Leilani Lutali shared with U.S. media a letter she received from the UCHealth Transplant Center near Denver, which stated she would be removed from the transplant list unless she begins the vaccine process within 30 days.

The letter, which was also shared on Twitter by state representative Tim Geitner, said the patient would be placed as “inactive” on the transplant waiting list for “non-compliance by not receiving the Covid vaccine”.

The letter read: “The transplant team at University of Colorado Hospital has determined that it is necessary to place you inactive on the waiting list.

“You will be inactivated on the list for non-compliance by not receiving the Covid vaccine. You will have 30 days to begin the vaccination series.

“If your decision is to refuse Covid vaccination you will be removed from the kidney transplant list.

“You will continue to accrue waiting time but you will not receive a kidney offer while listed inactive.”

Speaking to CBS News, Ms. Lutali, who has stage five renal failure, said she has not taken the vaccine because there are too many unknowns.

She said she only found out that the hospital was now requiring both herself and the donor to be vaccinated on September 28th.

“It’s surgery, it’s invasive. I sign a waiver for my life. I’m not sure why I can’t sign a waiver for the Covid shot,” she said.

Her donor Jaimee Fougner, who received the same letter from UCHealth, told the broadcaster she has not received the vaccine for religious reasons.

Ms. Fougner said: “It’s your choice on what treatment you have. In Leilani’s case, the choice has been taken from her. Her life has now been held hostage because of this mandate.”

The women have said they are now looking for another hospital to perform the transplant but have yet to find one.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: You can read the full letter sent to Leilani Lutali by the UCHealth Transplant Center here.

Government Wants to Make Covid Vaccination Mandatory for All Frontline NHS Staff

Reports suggest that Sajid Javid, who recently expressed hesitancy about “taking away people’s freedom” with vaccine passports, is keen to force all frontline NHS staff to get vaccinated against Covid. A decision on whether NHS staff, like care home workers, should be told to “get jabbed or get another job” is expected to be made later this month. i news has the story.

A formal consultation on making Covid and flu vaccination a condition of employment in the NHS is due to end on October 22nd, and the Health Secretary is ready to act swiftly to implement the change, i has been told.

Following a change in the law enacted this summer, staff in care homes have until November 11th to get double jabbed for Covid, after which point they will be legally barred from work without vaccination.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has separate but similar plans to require all NHS frontline staff to be fully vaccinated – unless they have a medical exemption.

Javid is privately furious with the risk that unjabbed NHS staff pose to vulnerable patients when working in both hospital and in community settings. [Privatley? He seems to be fairly open about this.] …

He is understood to want to be “even more hardline” with health service staff than with care home staff, not least as they are directly employed by the state rather than by private providers.

While no one in Government wants to publicly pre-empt the consultation, it is understood that Boris Johnson is fully behind Javid’s belief that unjabbed health staff pose a risk to the most vulnerable

Javid also wants to offer extra reassurance to vulnerable patients that they can enter hospital and be sure that all those around them are double jabbed.

There is also a concern in government that unjabbed care home staff, who are barred from working with patients from next month, have been moving into the NHS.

The vast majority of NHS staff have been double jabbed. Latest weekly figures for England show 1,326,000 have had a first jab (92%), 1,277,000 (89%) have had a second jab. But 8% have not had any jab at all.

Worth reading in full.

Sajid Javid Tells Care Home Workers to “Get Jabbed or Get Another Job”

The Health Secretary has doubled down on the ‘no jab no job’ policy for care home workers, following reports that more than half of care homes could be forced to sack staff because of the rule, saying that those who refuse to get vaccinated against Covid should “get out and get another job”. Dismissing the views of those who have chosen not to get vaccinated, he said ‘refuseniks’ simply “cannot be bothered” to join in with the roll-out. The Telegraph has the story.

The Health Secretary said he is not prepared to “pause” the requirement for care home staff to be fully-vaccinated by November 11th, amid concerns significant numbers of staff are reluctant to receive the vaccine.

The Government announced their decision to make vaccination compulsory for care home workers in August, a controversial move that sector and union leaders warned could lead to a “mass exodus” of staff.

Mr. Javid told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “If you work in a care home you are working with some of the most vulnerable people in our country and if you cannot be bothered to go and get vaccinated, then get out and go and get another job.”

He added: “If you want to look after them [care home residents], if you want to cook for them, if you want to feed them, if you want to put them to bed, then you should get vaccinated. If you are not going to get vaccinated then why are you working in care?”

Christina McAnea, Unison’s General Secretary, said: “Vaccination remains the way out of the pandemic. But coercing and bullying people can never be the right approach.”

Boris Johnson has defended the move, saying it was “only reasonable” to expect workers in a position of care to be vaccinated.

The Prime Minister said: “I think that it’s only reasonable to expect people who are entrusted with the care of elderly and vulnerable people to be inoculated against a disease which is particularly harmful to elderly and vulnerable people.”

Worth reading in full.

Biden Administration Plans to Increase Fines on Companies with Unvaccinated Employees

Through a provision attached to the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” spending bill, the Biden administration is attempting to increase the financial penalty tenfold for companies which continue to employ unvaccinated citizens. Due to previous emergency legislation, Federal law identifies the spread of Covid as a workplace hazard, allowing President Biden to become further unimpeded in his task of fully vaccinating the American workforce if the provision passes both chambers of Congress. MailOnline has the story. 

The increased fines on employers could go as high as $70,000 for serious infractions, and $700,000 for wilful or repeated violations – a sum which can be applied to each instance of a violation rather than a total limit.  

If enacted into law, the fines could rapidly bankrupt companies whose employees are not vaccinated, in effect forcing businesses to comply with Biden’s inoculation drive. 

It comes after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published an emergency Covid rule in the Federal Register this summer, which added Covid to a list of possible workplace hazards for healthcare employment.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet announced when the House will vote on the reconciliation bill that includes the new vaccine enforcement mechanism. 

On Thursday September 9th, Biden announced that companies with 100 or more employees must ensure every worker is either fully vaccinated or gets tested at least once a week, or face fines of thousands of dollars.

He also demanded that all workers in healthcare settings that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement – roughly 17 million people – must get vaccinated, and signed an executive order requiring all federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated.

Now, the raise in fines included in the new bill formulates the latest part of the President’s drive to get 100 million employees across the federal government and private sector vaccinated. 

Any business that violates the rule can already face substantial fines of up to $14,000 per incident, but the legislation that has been included in the new $3.5 trillion bill could raise the fines for non-compliance 10 times higher, with a limit of up to $700,000 for each “wilful” or “repeated” violation according to Forbes. 

Worth reading in full.

Vaccine Mandate Could Force Holiday Homes for Disabled People to Close

The vaccine mandate for care homes is having “devastating consequences” for the sector, according to Revitalise, a charity offering respite holidays for disabled people and carers, with some of the few holiday homes facing closure due to staff shortages. The Guardian has the story.

The 60 year-old company, whose patron is the businesswoman and former Prime Minister’s wife Samantha Cameron, runs three specialist holiday centres in England which cater for 4,600 disabled people and their carers each year.

Janine Tregelles, the Chief Executive, said the future of the charity was under threat because of the policy that all care staff in England must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus by November 11th.

“For Revitalise and for the care sector, the mandatory vaccination policy will, if implemented, have devastating consequences,” she said.

The Government said it was vital for care home staff to be fully vaccinated to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society. More than 90% of eligible staff had received their first dose of a Covid vaccine by last week, it said. …

Ministers have previously said they estimate that about 7% of the 570,000 CQC-registered care home staff in England – about 40,000 people – will refuse the vaccine and therefore no longer be able to care for residents after November 11th.

Tregelles said the future of at least one of its three specialist respite centres was at stake. She said five key, longstanding colleagues had chosen not to be vaccinated “because they believe in their right to bodily integrity, which is enshrined in the Human Rights Act”.

Another seven employees, who have been vaccinated, are threatening to resign if their colleagues are made redundant, she said. This means that one holiday centre may have to close, putting “the rest of the charity under threat”. …

She urged ministers to ditch the policy before it deepened the staffing crisis “they have exacerbated beyond measure”.

Worth reading in full.

Unvaccinated Footballers Could Be Barred from Next World Cup

Qatar is believed to be pushing for unvaccinated footballers to be barred from playing in next year’s World Cup, with fans also having to show proof of full vaccination to attend matches. MailOnline has the story.

It is known that professional players’ views on taking the vaccine are mixed and there are some concerns Qatar’s stance could rob the tournament of its stars – something all parties want to avoid.

Qatar, who have already administered more than 4.6 million vaccines so far, roughly 82% of their population, are in discussions with FIFA and medical authorities in efforts to reach an amicable solution.

The Athletic claim a number of options are being considered, including uninoculated players having to report negative tests every three days. …

A number of Premier League clubs are known to have players still resisting the Covid vaccine, including Arsenal and Switzerland star Granit Xhaka.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted last month “not all of the players have been double-jabbed”, adding: “I have encouraged them to take the vaccination but you cannot force anyone to do that.” …

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has admitted that “a lot” of his players have not been vaccinated…

Deputy Chief Medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has been forthright in urging players to take up the vaccine and told them to ignore the myths around it. …

Worth reading in full.