AFT 1931 supports vaccine mandates in our Districts for several key reasons. The first and most important is that vaccines have proven to be extremely important in preventing the spread of Covid-19, severe illness, and death. This is the overwhelming scientific consensus over which there is no serious debate. If we are ever going to be able to come back to work safely in the midst of this pandemic, having a vaccine mandate for students, staff, and faculty is essential.
Additionally, as public servants we believe it is our moral obligation to protect each other from this deadly disease and help speed the end to the long nightmare this pandemic has been for all of us. AFT Guild members have made themselves heard on this issue, and they are both getting vaccinated and calling for tight requirements to ensure that our campus community is safe.
Finally, the evidence from elsewhere in California and the rest of the country is that vaccine mandates work, and despite dire predictions of mass resistance, the vast majority of workers in education, health care, and elsewhere in the public sector are getting vaccinated.
In sum, it’s the right thing to do, the smart thing to do, and the most effective thing to do to make our workplace safe. It’s not about individual preference, it’s about the collective health of our community. The greater good is clearly served by this wise policy.
Of course, the small number of medically legitimate exceptions should be honored so long as individuals are regularly tested in lieu of being vaccinated for the protection of their co-workers and students.
Why does this matter with most people vaccinated in San Diego? Why make everyone do it?
While it’s great that San Diego’s vaccination numbers are higher than Los Angles and Covid-19 cases are finally in decline, we have all seen this movie before. Anyone who follows the news on the pandemic knows that a chorus of epidemiologists expect yet another fall/winter bump, if not a fifth surge.
Add to this the fact that, in the wake of the Delta variant, many epidemiologists are suggesting that herd immunity may ultimately be elusive, and that Covid-19 will eventually become endemic, but the pandemic will grind on for months in the process before subsiding to that level. Thus we will be left dealing with a persistent minority of vaccine resisters who will put the responsible majority in jeopardy as we await the slow motion end to drag to a conclusion.
As the New York Times noted last week, even as we might be beginning to see the end in sight:
[A] small numbers of “superspreaders” seem to play a disproportionate role in setting off outbreaks. “About 10 to 20 percent of the people are responsible for 80 to 90 percent of the infections,” said Christina Ramirez, a biostatistician at the University of California, Los Angeles.
That means that two similar communities might find themselves on radically different trajectories simply because one highly infectious person happened to attend a crowded indoor event, fueling a major outbreak.
Hence we need to be assured that our campuses are safe spaces and a vaccine mandate combined with required masking and proper safety protocols are the only way to do so.
The good news is that polling of AFT members as of late September shows that the vast majority, 90% in fact, are already vaccinated with another three percent saying they are soon to get a shot. The polling also shows that a supermajority of AFT members nationwide supports mandates.
As AFT National President Randi Weingarten has said: “This poll is proof positive that the hard work educators have been doing for months to get vaccinated, promote the shot and work with employers on vaccine requirements has paid dividends. Educators know that safety was the pathway back to in-person learning and is the key to staying back—a combination of vaccines, masking, ventilation, physical distancing and planning for an outbreak. They are doing everything they can to make that happen.”
Together we can get this done, stay safe, serve our community and help to finally bring an end to this pandemic that has done so much harm to our communities and our students.