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The case for universal vaccination

Posted on August 12, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

A personal statement on vaccination policy, by Bill Boerum —

At the onset of my comments, let me make it clear that this statement does not reflect the position of the Sonoma Valley Health Care District nor of Sonoma Valley Hospital. Admittedly, I do not have clinical experience in any sense. 

The Covid-19 virus is not spiking. It is surging markedly among the unvaccinated. It disparately affects communities not accustomed to medical care or skeptical of vaccine efficacy. While there have been break-through cases affecting the vaccinated, these have been miniscule as a proportion of total new cases. Additionally, new variants of the virus can push the surge, the Delta variant, and likely, the newly identified Lambda variant. 

I just declined a speaking engagement in Peru based on my concerns about possible changes in travel restrictions (quarantines) entering that country, and on returning to the U.S. It did not escape my attention that Peru has had the highest Covid fatality rates in the world, and that the origin of the new and concerning, Lambda variant was identified there. 

The only way to defeat this virulent and mutating virus from further disrupting our economic, civic, and social lives, is the force of science. We need universal vaccination. We can achieve universal vaccination in three ways: by moral suasion, employer mandates, and public access restrictions. I do not believe that public health authorities on every level of jurisdiction – and including medical and hospital associations – have done enough to communicate the need for vaccination. Masking is not enough.

Employers large and small need to require vaccination as a condition of ongoing employment in the workplace. This needs to start immediately with all public employees at local, county, state, and federal levels, whether office workers, hospital clinicians and staff, or teachers. There is no point to mask school children (who have shown little predilection for the disease) when all their teachers have not been vaccinated. Private employers – without government coercion but for the public good – likewise should require vaccination, otherwise furlough. The final component to defeat the virus is restricting access to indoor public places including restaurants and entertainment venues. Indoor access should be granted only on presentation of a vaccination card or its digital image, or negative test results.

This country has the supply capacity to vaccinate everyone. We need universal vaccination to defeat and permanently suppress the virus. As a child of the 1950’s I recall that the defeat of the polio virus was by mass vaccination. Today, we need universal vaccination as a public health requirement.            

Bill Boerum is a board member (Treasurer & Governance Chair) of the Sonoma Valley Health Care District  



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