Vaccine Resistance and Government Agencies Working With the Most Vulnerable

A few weeks ago, there was a huge uproar over vaccine mandates for all New York City employees. There was the uproar from those who were resistant to the vaccines, and then there was the outcry from those worried about how government services would deteriorate without a portion of the workforce around due to the mandates.

But there’s a different outcry that should happen, yet I don’t see happening.

There should be outcry over the fact that, across the United States, the government workers doing the least to protect themselves and others from the virus (at least in terms of getting vaccinated) are in many cases the ones who work with some of the most vulnerable populations.

I observed in one of my COVID update blog posts a few weeks ago that the government agencies with the lowest vaccine rates in my city at the time were many of the ones serving the most vulnerable populations; namely, agencies serving those in legal trouble (police), those in jail, those with fires, those who are homeless, and those who are in public housing. At the time, I bemoaned the fact that the media wasn’t picking up on this.

However, one thing even I didn’t pick up fully until another friend alerted me to this was that my observation about unvaccinated government workers in New York City was a microcosm of what we’ve been seeing nationwide. Throughout the United States, it is government employees who are working with many of the most vulnerable in society who are often also the most resistant to getting vaccinated. In Chicago, it was reported a few weeks into their own mandate that their police and fire departments had the lowest vaccination rates.[1] In numerous states, it’s been reported that prison inmates are getting vaccinated at higher rates than the corrections officers who work with them (with some states having extremely low vaccine rates among their corrections officers)![2] Vaccine resistance among government workers who work with the most vulnerable in our society is not just a New York City issue, but seemingly a nationwide one.

This is a fact that I find troubling, and a fact that I think a lot of us should find troubling as well. We want the people who serve the most vulnerable to do all they can to keep themselves and others healthy, and the science shows that getting a COVID vaccine is the best way to do that, plain and simple. So when those serving the most vulnerable decide, in many cases, not to get vaccinated, and in the process make themselves and others (particularly others these people interact with who are in vulnerable situations) more vulnerable to this virus, it is something that is extremely problematic. And I hear very little media coverage of this.

Even though it’s something media hasn’t covered, I hope this gets more attention, because once it gets more attention, it will hopefully lead to a more aggressive, sustained push in some municipalities for government workers to get vaccinated. It’s important for this to happen, for the sakes of those most vulnerable, and by extension, the entire society at large.



Coronavirus Update From New York City: November 11, 2021

I hope everyone is healthy and safe, regardless of where you live.

I will get my booster Moderna shot tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting the booster shot! Though, admittedly, I am looking much less forward to seeing what the side effects of the booster will be. All I will say is that I’m glad that I’m getting the shot on a Friday evening, so that I have the weekend to recover from whatever the side effects may be. In my Coronavirus update post next week, I will make sure to talk about the experience of getting a booster shot, in terms of the shot itself as well as any side effects I may have.

The rate at which the virus is spreading, which appeared to be slowing down for quite some time, appears to have at best stalled out and is in real danger of going on the rise again.[1] With the holidays right around the corner, it to me raises concern that the virus is in a position to spread even more, yet again. Which means more deaths.

In more positive news, the controversial vaccine mandate among New York City employees that I’ve been talking about in recent weeks appears to be working. And when I mean working, what I mean is that we’ve seen significant increases in the number of people in key New York City government agencies getting vaccinated. Namely, vaccination rates among police, fire, and sanitation workers have increased significantly.[2] While I absolutely hope that more people in local government will do the right thing and get vaccinated, I am also glad to see that the mandate, controversial as it may be among some, is working.

That is pretty much it, in terms of updates from where I am. I hope others are well!



Coronavirus Update From New York City: November 4, 2021

I hope all of my readers are healthy and safe, regardless of where you are living. I also wish a Happy Diwali to all who celebrate it.

In personal news, I have scheduled my appointment to get a vaccine booster shot. My second Moderna vaccine dose was in late April, so between how long it’s been since I got my second shot and the fact that I am overweight (or at least have a Body Mass Index high enough that I’m considered to be part of a population vulnerable to the pandemic), I was eligible to schedule an appointment to get a booster shot. I will get that booster shot on Friday, November 12th. In the COVID update post following my booster shot on the 12th, I will report on how the booster shot experience went (including talk about any side effects I have).

Also on a personal note, I am getting back, slowly but surely, into the swing of doing certain things that I did before the pandemic, such as eating indoors at a restaurant (albeit at restaurants that are relatively empty inside and have good ventilation so as to minimize risk) and attending an indoor gathering with several people not in my COVID “bubble.” While the individual experiences have gone fine so far, I must say that oh boy–it is an adjustment mentally to start getting back into things that I did before the pandemic! My guess is that over time, I will find myself continuing to readjust to things that I did before the pandemic on a regular basis, even if the pandemic situation (with a low level of spread, and a low test positivity rate) in New York City is such that it is safe for me to ease my way back into some activities. All I can say to others in a similar place is to be patient with yourself.

The vaccine mandate for New York City workers is now in effect. And, for all the complaining about the mandate, it has been extremely successful in terms of getting more people vaccinated. The vaccination rates went from 58% to 77% with the fire department, 70% to 85% with the police department, and from 62% to 83% with the sanitation department over the span of a couple of weeks. Among the entire New York City workforce, the vaccination rate has increased by 14% over a span of 10 days.[1] At least in New York City, mandates get people vaccinated.

However, as one can tell by looking at the numbers I just cited, there is still a portion of workers in the aforementioned departments (as well as a few others) that are unvaccinated and are therefore on unpaid leave. In those agencies, there are concerns about staffing shortages. I remain optimistic that those concerns will be short-lived, because I believe that when the reality sets in and people realize that the mandates are not going away (a reality that may set in among some people when they end up missing their first paycheck for unpaid leave because they decided not to get a vaccine shot), I’m guessing that even more people will get a vaccine shot. We’ll see if I’m correct to be optimistic.

That’s pretty much it on my end. I will be interested to hear how others are doing, though!


Election Day in the United States Is Today! Vote!

I did not write a blog post last night because I wanted to instead remind my American readers that Election Day is today!

Election Day this year may not have the sort of attention that it had last year, but the elections this year are important in their own way. The importance of today’s elections are clear in places electing people to lead major cities (like New York City) and states (like New Jersey and Virginia). But elections for school board seats, county legislatures, and local sheriffs are also extremely important in their own way and will have an impact on the lives of many. Who we elect (or who we don’t elect) will help determine which problems get addressed, which ones are left unaddressed, and which ones end up worsening. The people we elect can also help determine the course of the current COVID-19 pandemic where we live and/or work.

So, as I just came back from voting in several races over here in New York City, including a vote for our next mayor, I’m going to end this post with one word, and one word only…


Coronavirus Update From New York City: October 28, 2021

I hope that all my readers are healthy and safe, regardless of where you are living.

The rate at which the virus is spreading is continuing to slow down. This mirrors what we’ve been seeing across the United States, where the spread of the Delta variant has slowed down. What this also means is that we continue to have a good percentage of ICU beds available in the New York City area (steadily at or near 40% of beds available).

Even though the spread of Delta has slowed down, there continues to be parts of the United States where the pandemic situation is quite serious. I think of those in Idaho, where fewer than half of the people in that state are vaccinated and nearly 9 in 10 ICU beds filled.[1] I think of places like the Metropolitan Houston Area in Texas, where over 9 in 10 ICU beds are filled.[2] The worst of the Delta variant may be behind many of us in many ways, but we are still facing the consequences of the variant (and low vaccination rates in many areas that allowed it to thrive).

What continues to grab headlines in New York City, when it comes to the virus, is the battle over vaccine mandates. I talked in my post last week about the debate over said mandates among all New York City employees. As of the time of my writing this post, we appear on course for the mandate to start in the coming days. There are protests over the mandates, yet I continue to remain hopeful that when all is set and done, people will choose their paychecks over all else. That is certainly what Mayor Bill de Blasio is betting on. And if the bet goes wrong, we could be in for a turbulent time with staffing shortages in New York City agencies that serve some of the most vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, those having fires, and those in jail.

That’s pretty much it for me, for now. I’m very much interested in hearing how others are going along!