Unvaccinated to Unemployed

As the nation makes its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, each state is taking a different approach to move beyond the restrictions that have been placed on many’s lives. As part of this, more and more businesses and public service jobs are requiring employees to be vaccinated. Workers who do not want to be vaccinated must face the consequence of unpaid leave. This is a controversial issue, as many feel that it is unfair to force public service workers to get a vaccination that they do not wish to receive, or they risk losing their income. Others believe that it is beneficial for the safety of the public. 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided the safest way to limit the number of cases is to vaccinate the workers who are in contact with most people: police officers, firefighters, medics, and city workers. According to the Firefighter Nation article “New York City to Require Vaccine for Police, Firefighters, Medics, City Workers,” de Blasio has given an ultimatum to these workers. “The mandate… carries a Nov. 1 deadline for getting the first vaccine dose,” de Blasio said; if workers do not get the vaccine, they will be placed on unpaid leave. 

The mandate was created to protect citizens from the virus, but now there are less protectors for these citizens on the streets. With police officers, firefighters, and medics being sent home from work, the streets of NYC are potentially more at risk for unregulated criminal activity. “If I was the mayor, I would not know what to do,” said junior Caityblu Cavassa. “De Blasio has a lot to consider. He must decide if criminals or the virus are more dangerous,” added Cavassa. She believes there are better ways to contain the spread of the virus without sending unvaccinated workers home, “like enforcing the use of masks inside and while standing within six feet or closer.” 

These public workers are not the first to be required to be vaccinated to work. As of Nov. 1, NYC has sent around 9,000 workers on unpaid leave and still has around 21,000 workers who must be vaccinated who have still not completed their requirement. 

Anatomy teacher John Zaccaro said that he is vaccinated for the protection of his students and their families. “Vaccinations are important when working in a big group of people because it prevents the amount of viral load you can spread to other people, helps prevent spread to a sensitive group of people, and strengthens your immune system,” Zaccaro said.

More and more people are being vaccinated as regulations extend to children aged five and up. “The vaccine is to help put an end to COVID and protect everyone,” said senior Grace Bodian. “Everyone, if they can, should receive the vaccine and take their kids to get vaccinated. This is the only way to truly end the pandemic,” added Bodian.