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February 16, 2021

Essential Workers Should be Vaccinated

There should be vaccine available for essential workers. Essential Workers should be required to get vaccinated.

Vermont, like many other states, gave its first vaccinations to heath care workers and first responders broadly defined. These are the workers who are most at risk for catching COVID. These are also the people who would be most likely to spread COVID to the vulnerable populations they work with - especially since COVID is apparently most contagious while still asymptomatic. It was a good decision.

According to a story in VT Digger, only 60% of workers in skilled nursing facilities in Vermont have been vaccinated even though all have been offered the vaccine. Their patients, of course, are the people most likely to die of COVID if infected. The skilled nursing facilities should start replacing the workers who refuse vaccination. 90% of heath care workers in other facilities in Vermont have received their shots. The other 10% should work in a less essential profession.

Vermont is well along in its program of vaccinating the most vulnerable (including me on account of geezerhood). The state is considering whether, after the over 65s are done, it should assure vaccine is available for a broader category of essential workers.

Employers such as airlines are asking for their workers to be given priority; unions, especially the teachers’ unions, are demanding priority for their members. State governments are deciding and will have to continue to decide who goes to the front of the line.  The decision should be based both on who has high exposure and who is most likely to pass the disease on to others.

Any decision to declare a class of workers “essential” as far as vaccination is concerned should not only make vaccine available to those workers but also require that they take it as a condition of continued employment in their essential line of work.

See also: It’s Time for Mandatory Vaccinations

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