If State Senator James Holzapfel (R-Ocean) gets his way, you might be wearing masks forever. That’ll be the only way to ensure you’ll be kinda safe in a public place.
A bill he’s introduced in the State Legislature, he says will prevent development of “vaccine passports,” but it goes a lot farther than that.
If his bill passes (and I’m betting it won’t) it would be illegal for any employer to require a worker to be vaccinated, even a healthcare worker in an ICU or a nursing home. No one could require vaccination to enroll in childcare programs, school or college, receive medical or dental care, participate in sports programs, enter a business, attend a theatre or concert, use a park, beach or ballgame. They can travel anywhere they like, without any requirements set by hotels, boarding houses, airlines, cruise lines or Uber drivers.
You’ll never know if the guy sitting next to you in the moviehouse has an allergy or Covid or whether the aide coughing in Grandma’s face as she feeds her has a cold or Covid. You could be fined $25,000 for asking.
Holzapfel’s two Assembly partners have already signed on to the Bill, but it is unlikely to get very far in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. At least not yet.
President Biden is said to be considering authorizing some inquiries into a person’s vaccine status but said he would leave the details up to the states. Governor Murphy hasn’t expressed an opinion yet but he’s thinking about it.
I believe we need to bring some reality into consideration of any kind of vaccination requirement. Maybe you don’t need one to get your prescription filled, but your dentist should know your status before she sticks her fingers in your mouth and you should know hers before she breathes in your unmasked face.
Nursing home and hospital workers who refuse to be vaccinated not only endanger their patients, but also show a disregard for medical science that might be reflected in other actions they take. It might be okay for you to try on clothes in a retail dressing room, but maybe your hairdresser is concerned about his own health status and doesn’t want to hover around your unvaccinated head.
It should be left up to employers to consider the risks of their business and make policies accordingly. Many colleges already have said only vaccinated persons can attend in-person classes or live in dorms. Quite a few cruise lines are permitting only vaccinated passengers and crew on board, and many airlines already require proof of vaccination or of a recent negative Covid-19 test before flying.
Various countries will make their own rules about vaccinations. Some Americans may be surprised to disembark only to be told to get back on board because they can’t visit the new country without a vaccination or a 14-day quarantine and there are no long-term hotel rooms available.
To travel and do routine business anywhere, you don’t now have to prove you’ve been vaccinated against smallpox or measles but to visit certain countries you do have to show you’ve been vaccinated against malaria and other tropical diseases.
Covid is similar. It isn’t the common cold from which everybody recovers or Rocky Mountain Fever which infects only one person at a time. It’s a rapidly spreading, always mutating virus that kills too many of its unwilling hosts. We deserve protection – to give it and get it.
The ability to spread such a virus needs to be known. It’s not a “none of your business” type of question. Vaccine passports aren’t discrimination. They’re discretion.
A former assemblywoman from Jersey City, Joan Quigley is the president and CEO of North Hudson Community Action Corp.
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