Forced Vaccinations for County Workers: This Science is Unreal
By Mark Lautman
In my neighborhood, residents display the “We Believe” yard signs that many of you have also seen. These yard signs evoke principles to which I personally subscribe (and not everybody does): Black Lives Matter, No Human is Illegal, Love is Love, Science is Real, Water is Life, and Women’s Rights are Human Rights.
I have found that while people articulate and rally around these principles, they more often than not do not live up to them, particularly “Science is Real.” We see so often, and so disappointingly, that humans, by virtue of human nature, first come to a conclusion and then select the science that supports it.
We see this happening with the current proposal to give county employees a stark choice: subject yourself to a COVID injection or be dismissed. The objective, as Council Member Hans Riemer mentioned, is twofold. First, vaccination is one of our most powerful tools to contain the pandemic; second, county employees who are getting vaccinated deserve to know that their workplaces are safe.
Wholesale forced vaccinations have nothing to do with achieving these objectives. Regarding the first objective, containing the pandemic, forced vaccination defies both logic and recent history. Suppose we forcibly inject every single county employee with the COVID vaccine. With 7.8 billion people on the planet, injecting 49,000 county employees (0.0006% of the world’s population) will not contain the pandemic. If anything, the county should donate those 49,000 doses to third-world countries where they will have a much higher incremental contribution toward slowing hospitalizations and mutations. From a historical perspective, we have seen that Montgomery County has a muted impact on world history. In 1982 Garrett Park voted to become a nuclear free zone; did that stop the arms race? No, forcing county employees to get a vaccine will not contain the pandemic; that’s the science.
The second objective, ensuring a safe workplace for employees, can be achieved without a forced vaccination regime. Much of the county’s office staff are working remotely full time or part time, so vaccination is not required to make them safe. Furthermore, wearing masks, frequent hand washing, spacing out workstations, and checking temperatures was the successful protocol before the vaccine was available; that protocol is still valid for county workers who must work inside physical facilities. Mr. Riemer specifically notes that only 63% of employees in the Department of Corrections and Fire and Rescue Services had at least one injection. Those employees (actually, all county employees) must be allowed to come to their own arrangements regarding unvaccinated co-workers. If they cannot do so, then those individual workers who are indeed posing a risk to their associates should be given the choice first of re-assignment, then vaccination, and only as a last resort dismissal. (It’s hard to believe that forced vaccination will ensure a safe workplace for FRS employees. These heroic public servants tend to victims of accidents and violence, not all of whom are vaccinated. Following Mr. Riemer’s line of reasoning, to keep FRS employees safe, they should check a resident’s vaccination record before responding to a domestic violence call.)
Vaccination ultimatums do not achieve, or are not needed to achieve, the two objectives Mr. Riemer has articulated. His proposal is not about health and safety, and it’s not about science—it is about force and violence. History, including American history, has seen episodes of forcibly using science and medicine for nothing other than eliminating “domestic enemies.” It’s a chapter in Montgomery County’s history we must avoid writing.
Mark Lautman is an independent voter who collaborates with Democratic, Republican, and third-party initiatives when he sees a need for reform. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the MCGOP.