Vaccination rules

With new jab-or-test rules coming to the private sector in January, officials monitoring the federal government’s massive COVID vaccine program will be under added pressure to see how other government entities are handling the complex operation. And that also means Uncle Sam will be under pressure — from both camps in the vaccine issue — to make sure the in-house program is seen as fair and efficient by friends and foes of the mandates.

That includes policing a program that requires U.S. government workers and federal contractors to get vaccinated. That group makes up by far the largest group of workers in the country. Beginning early next year, private sector organizations with 100 or more employees will be required to see that their employees are vaccinated or regularly tested if they are exempted for medical, religious or personal reasons.

So in addition to making sure others comply with the rules, the federal government is also keeping a close eye on non-federal government centers. The number one, for obvious reasons, is the civil service workforce of New York City. Such as, how is the government of the nation’s largest, most diverse city managing the nation’s largest group of city employees. Once an epicenter of the pandemic, New York has generally received high marks for how it handled the situation. Despite its racial, ethnic and religious mix, the city has a much higher vaccine rate than many other places large and small.

But a number of employees — many in critical fields — are balking at getting any shots.

The Big Apple has 370,000 municipal employees. That includes many firefighters and law enforcement personnel. Plus lots of workers whose jobs mirror those found inside the federal workforce. The New York Times recently reported that 9,000 city workers had been put on unpaid leave because they refused or otherwise didn’t have shots. There are 12,000 additional cases pending of city employees who strongly object to or fear the vaccines.

So what next? We’ve heard from a number of feds on both sides of the issue. Most support the vaccine but a number say they will quit if necessary. Here are two of the most recent. Both are veteran Agriculture Department workers, one retired and one still on the job. For now!

”Good morning Mike,

I respect the worker who said he’d leave before taking the shots, and wish him well. On the other hand, I weighed my personal risk factors: 65+, male. type A pos. blood; and determined I had a 50/50 chance of leaving the hospital healthy should I get COVID. That coin flip choice suggested to me the side effects of the vaccine were likely to be far less than the risk of an active COVID infection. I chose vaccination plus booster, and have had slight to no side-effect impact from them. There are others who depend on me and I wished to protect them as well as myself. Were I still working for USDA I would have made the same choice .

Thanks, Jim S. USDA, retired

”Sir,

It’s nice to see someone in the press representing the other side of the issue; it simply doesn’t happen much these days.

I’m also a federal employee who will not under any circumstances take the shots being offered now. I’ve applied for a religious accommodation and have no idea when or if it’ll be approved. I am prepared to file an EEOC complaint and hire an attorney to take legal action if my request is denied or they put me on unpaid leave.

I believe they have to be consistent across the board in terms of punishment, correct? If they fire one employee for not taking the vax, then they have to fire all of them; at least that’s my understanding. Not sure how they can afford to fire over 40,000 forest rangers, meat inspectors, rural housing loan specialists, farm loan specialists, fire fighters, etc. USDA serves every corner of the country & most of us live in rural America where we’ve been living ‘normally’ for many months, most of us teleworking from home 100%. This mandate does not make sense to most of us, even those who have taken the shot. I personally view it as a slap in the face to those who chose public service over private industry-many of them being veterans.

Thank you for listening and caring enough to report both sides of the issue.

-Concerned Citizen

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

The national flag of Nepal is the world’s only national flag that is non-quadrilateral in shape. The flag is a simplified combination of two single pennons, the vexillological word for a pennant.

Source: Montana State University

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