Vaccine Mandate Concerns Voiced
By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor
A few dozen residents took to sign-holding in Kaunakakai last week to air concerns about recent vaccine mandates imposed on state and county employees, which also includes Dept. of Education teachers, as well as students wanting to participate in school athletics.
The island and state are in the midst of the largest spike in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, causing dire concern to health officials and leading to many workplace vaccine mandates in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. And though strongly urged by many community leaders and officials, getting vaccinated in still a personal choice, and some residents are standing up for the freedom to choose.
Signs displayed messages such as “Coercion is not consent,” “Freedom to choose,” “Jesus is my vaccine” and “Parents call the shots.”
Employees who do not comply with vaccination mandates must take COVID tests regularly or may face termination in some cases.
Sign-holding attendees who spoke with the Dispatch didn’t want their names included for fear of workplace retaliation, community hostility and discrimination, some of which they said they have already been experiencing.
“This is not an anti-vax movement, but rather a stance to protect freedoms — our private and personal autonomous choice to vaccinate or not,” said one resident. “Forcing and threatening faithful employees with termination for non-compliance is an overreach.”
One sign-holder held reminders of aloha: “Pro-vax, pro un-vax,” “Be kind, everyone has a story.”
Following the lead of the state and counties, some of Hawaii’s largest employers have also announced vaccine mandates for employees, such as Hawaiian Electric and Bank of Hawaii.
First responders in Honolulu have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the vaccine mandates. The complaint argues that with the FDA so far granting only “emergency use authorization” for COVID-19 vaccines, taking the vaccine requires people to give consent to get the shot, which they claim is “experimental.”
“Plaintiffs have a universally recognized, fundamental right to be free from human medical experimentation, a right that is protected by recognized international legal standards, international treaties to which the United States is a member, the laws and regulations of the United States, and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the complaint states. “Moreover, Plaintiffs have a universally recognized, fundamental right to give informed consent to any medical treatment, a right that is secured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Meanwhile, the FDA is expected to announce full approval of COVID vaccines soon.
Regardless of vaccination, it’s critical to wear a mask in public, stay home whenever possible, don’t gather in groups, avoid unnecessary travel and follow sanitation recommendations to keep the community safe.