Los Angeles, USA | When U.S. officials announced the introduction of a duty on administrations and companies to vaccinate against COVID-19, some predicted that the wave of layoffs or resignations would jeopardize a weaker economic recovery.
If this is not the case then maybe the vaccine duty reiterated by President Joe Biden on Thursday seems to have paid off.
With the exception of a few pockets of resistance, many Americans who waited or hesitated eventually got their needles.
“Executive orders, by far, seem to be the best way to determine who is reluctant to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Bradley Pollock, a professor of public health science at the University of California through Davis. “This is very good,” he says in an interview with the Sacramento Bee newspaper.
In early November, more than 58% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated, only 50% when the first vaccination duties were announced in August.
The government decided on Thursday that since January 4, 2022, tens of thousands of U.S. employees affected by the move must have received their last dose of the vaccine, otherwise they will be subjected to at least one test per week.
These are employees of companies with more than 100 people, health workers and all contractors of federal agencies.
“Vaccination is the best way out of this epidemic,” President Joe Biden commented in a statement, “he promised to avoid this obligation, but (but) more people are not getting vaccinated to get out of it.
This rule affects more than two-thirds of American workers. Other private sector employees are already subject to similar obligations imposed by their employers, such as United Airlines. The airline has warned its 67,000 employees that they will be laid off if they do not get the shots on time.
As of Thursday, only 2,000 of them had applied for exemptions for medical or religious reasons, and most of the rest had received injections.
At the meat company Tyson Foods, which saw its operations severely disrupted at the start of the epidemic, 120,000 employees were due to be vaccinated on November 1st.
The New York Times reports that their vaccination rate has risen to 96% by Thursday, from less than 50% in early August.
The U.S. military, which has adopted the most stringent policy in the region, has 95% vaccine coverage.
If we are to trust the country’s leading trade union group, the AFL-CIO, which welcomes “a step in the right direction,” most employees agree with this obligation.
Some sectors remain resistant, rejecting more duty than the vaccine. This is especially the case with law enforcement personnel or firefighters, who, despite the many deaths associated with the epidemic in these industries, have an average immunization rate.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff says only 43% of his police officers are vaccinated against the corona virus. Sheriff Alex Villanueva called on the county to suspend this duty, saying it “undermines its ability to ensure public safety.”
In Chicago, several thousand police officers are at risk of ending up on unpaid leave.
In New York City, only half of the city employees who applied for medical or religious exemption were police officers. No major religion prohibits its followers from receiving the vaccine, which is considered safe and effective by health officials.
Reluctance is found in all strata of American society.
Caleb Macy, who works at NASA, was one of dozens of protesters who protested this week outside the center of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles.
Like other federal employees, he will be fired if he does not provide proof of vaccination by December 8th.
He applied for a religious exemption, but said he was prepared to lose his job. “I can swear to you that I will never get this vaccine,” he assured AFP, adding that someone had denied him “no choice”.
Many elected officials, mostly Republicans, trampled on sacred personal freedoms and denounced these obligations as comparable to “dictatorship.”
Many U.S. states, such as Texas, have banned all vaccination requirements on their soil.
As fuel from the summer by the delta variation, the epidemic has already killed more than 750,000 people in the United States.