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Editorial: Town Council needs to protect its employees and constituents and adopt a vax mandate

  • Written by Sharon Kivisto

Why do anti-vaxxers believe they have the right to endanger the health, economy, education, and jobs of the rest of us? By not getting immunized they increase the risk of more variants developing. The number of cases are already straining healthcare resources. 

The numbers are staggering. Approximately 41,600,000 people in the nation have caught COVID-19 as of September 15, 2021.  Of those approximately 667,000 have died. In San Juan County 288 people have come down with  COVID-19.  Ten people have been hospitalized with several treated in ICUs. Fortunately so far we haven't had any deaths in the islands. However, the county Health Officer Dr. Frank James says there is currently an islander in a mainland hospital's ICU who may die.

The only way to get this pandemic under contol, is for the vast majority of people to get immunized. San Juan County Council has voted to require county employees to get vaccinated. The state government, the federal government, Washington State Ferries all have adopted mandates requiring their employees to get vaccinated if they want to continue working. There are exemptions for religious or medical reasons. 

In the San Juan Islands 12,508 people are fully vaccinated. The county's population as of 2020 was 17,340. So doing the math, there are at least a few thousand you still need to get vaccinated. 

The Friday Harbor Town Council has a chance today at 12 noon Thursday to reverse the poor decision they made earlier this month when they voted 3-1 (one was absent)  against a proposed vaccination mandate for Town employees.  They need to step up and do the right thing tomorrow and protect their employees and the general public. 

It's time for people to stop putting up with the threat to public health  caused by anti-vaxxers.  Vaccines have saved millions of lives since they were first developed. It is nonsensical for people to refuse to use the tools that exist. The priority should be on ending this blasted pandemic.   

Both the CDC and the state Department of Health advise everyone who is eligible - ages 12 and older - to get immunized.  There are some medical exceptions such as those who are immuno-compromised should not get the jab. 

It's time to stop making this public health crisis a political issue. The virus doesn't care if you are left, right, progressive, moderate,  conservative, Democrat or Republican. Those who are refusing to work with the rest of us who are trying to end this pandemic, keep saying it's their rights that are being violated. The public has the right to a healthy environment. That right outweighs decisions being made by those who are misinformed. If you are adamantly opposed to getting vaccinated you are the one that should be accommodating the rest of us. Stay away from the stores, the ferries, public spaces. 

It is time to be realistic and strong and stand up to the misinformed. Let's get this pandemic behind us.