Screw the First Responders, Apparently

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In Louisiana, those against vaccine mandates in the workplace got a big legal win as the Second Circuit Court of Appeal put a stay on all firings of Oschner Health employees who have not met the vaccine requirement according to the health system’s policy.

Thirty-nine Oschner LSU Health employees in Caddo Parish and nine in Ouachita Parish filed suit in early October, claiming Louisiana’s constitution and laws guarantee citizens a right to decide their medical treatments. They also claim COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent disease transmission.

District courts in both parishes denied their requests to issue a restraining order to block the hospital from taking action against the employees.

But on Thursday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeal ruling Thursday reversed those rulings and instructed the district judges in those courts to grant the temporary restraining orders and to hold hearings on the lawsuits.

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As of October 6, Oschner Health said more than 85% of their 32,000 employees in Louisiana and Mississippi were fully vaccinated, and 90% had received their first dose.

We’ve seen these fights in various states. From public organizations like police and teacher unions to private groups like the Oschner health system employees. And while there has traditionally been an understanding that these organizations have the right to require vaccines (as do schools and colleges for students), that idea has been challenged a lot lately over the COVID-19 vaccines.

And it is not as though the government has helped. The Biden administration’s handling of the COVID crisis and their poor messaging on getting vaccinated have not encouraged people to get the shot. It’s been businesses requiring the vaccines that have boosted the numbers (see the last sentence in the quoted blocks above).

I’m been a vaccine advocate, got it early when educators were allowed in Louisiana to get one, and have encouraged others to get it. I think it’s the way to go. But where I draw the line is the angry and hateful rhetoric that comes from the pro-vaccine crowd toward anyone who doesn’t get it, and that includes the people we called first responders for the last nearly two years. The people who were on the front lines, dealing with this crisis as it ballooned to a major pandemic.

First responder administering care in New York
AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

We’ve seen major media outlets write stories dismissive of the healthcare workers who don’t want to get the shot. Attacks on those who are “failing to protect and serve” because they don’t want the vaccine. Political swipes at politicians who oppose these mandates and want to protect those first responders’ jobs.

All of these reactions amount to one thing: Actually, screw the first responders.

And that is a damn shame. At a time when we’re already splitting apart at the seams with hate and division, we really want to go after those who have stood at the front lines of the pandemic or are on the front lines of the crime wave sweeping through the country, and call for them to be fired because they don’t want the vaccine?

I understand the hesitancy, even if I don’t agree with it. The vaccine was developed quickly, there have been some reports of complications, and we don’t fully know the long-term effects of the shot. We have a ton of data from the clinical trials, but our entire fight over things like the Affordable Care Act was over the understanding that people have the right to choose their own healthcare, including boosters. While we have accepted mandates for vaccines against other diseases in the past, a lot of folks are starting to push back quite a bit, both because of the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and the heightened political tensions.

The fact is this: While people were sick and dying, doctors, nurses, EMTs, and the like were heroes in their fight against the pandemic. While storefronts are burning and looting is rampant, police officers are heroes. They will continue to be heroes as they serve against the ongoing pandemic and crime wave. There is no place for the level of toxicity and hatred being directed at them by the pro-vaccine masses.