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.


[1] https://www.chicagobusiness.com/government/chicago-police-vaccine-rate-lowest-among-city-departments

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jemimamcevoy/2021/09/30/prison-inmates-more-vaccinated-than-corrections-staff-in-at-least-13-states/?sh=44cdc04e4ebb

The Government Shutdown Screws Over the Poor

While I touched on the government shutdown in last week’s post, I felt that it was really important this week to dedicate a full post to the government shutdown. The task of dedicating a post to the shutdown, admittedly, was tremendously difficult because there are just so many injustices surrounding the whole debacle. There are environmental consequences of trash piling up in parks. There are national security consequences, as organizations responsible for our safety and security aren’t being paid (with all the stress, decrease in morale, and subsequent compromising of national security which comes along with the shutdown).[1] There are a lot of individuals and groups who get hurt by the shutdown.

When studying the shutdown a little more, it became quite obvious who I should focus on for this post: the poor. Why? Because if we’re honest with ourselves, those who are screwed over the most by this shutdown are the poor, whether we like to admit it or not.

For starters, government workers who are struggling to make ends meet already may find themselves without a home. This USA Today article from Christmas Day featured many a government worker (or many a government worker’s families) expressing anxiety about a potential inability to pay for basic living expenses. One of these workers even expressed anxiety about potential eviction if the government doesn’t open and back pay doesn’t kick in quickly. Members of Congress and the President will continue to get paid, but some poor government workers may end up homeless if this shutdown continues. The government shutdown screws over poor government workers who are living from paycheck to paycheck.

Additionally, tax refunds may be delayed as a result of the government shutdown.[2] The reason for this is that, as long as the government is shut down, tax refunds will not be issued at all. For people who are well off, these refunds may not be a big deal. But for people who are poor and who are living from paycheck to paycheck, it is a huge deal and it may be the difference between being able to afford the basics and not being able to afford the basics. The government shutdown screws over poor people for whom a tax refund may make a difference.

Finally, many food benefits are in danger as a result of the government shutdown, and additional food benefits will be endangered if the government shutdown drags on. For example, WIC, which is a nutrition program to help food-stressed and at-risk women and children, has already run out of funding, and it is left to local and state governments to cover for what the federal government can’t do. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which is a food program for low-income senior citizens, has suffered the same fate as WIC. If the shutdown drags on to the end of January, funding will run out for food stamps. If the shutdown drags into February, funding will run out for various child nutrition programs; this will endanger school breakfast, school lunch, summer food service, and other special programs.[3] The government shutdown royally screws over poor, food-stressed families.

Some people may not be affected severely by the government shutdown. But millions are already being severely affected by the shutdown, and the consequences will become significantly more dire for those affected the longer this shutdown goes. Most of all, though, it’s the poor who are getting screwed over the most by the incompetence in Washington, D.C.


[1] And to think that this shutdown was in the name of a “national security” issue—in other words, a border wall. Ironic, isn’t it?

[2] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/government-shutdown-delay-irs-tax-filing-and-refund-brings-chaos-just-before-tax-filing-season/

[3] https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2018/12/29/usda-updates-available-functions-during-lapse-funding