NJ Top News 4/28 – Efforts Intensify to Force COVID Vaccinations
The CDC and President Joe Biden are further telegraphing what appears to be a national policy designed to entice Americans hesitant to get vaccinated to roll up their sleeves.
The carrot and stick approach is simple: Get vaccinated and enjoy more freedoms.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky announced that those who have been fully vaccinated no longer have to wear a mask in most outdoor situations with a nudge toward getting more shots in arms.
"The general guidance is the more and more people who get vaccinated, the safer," Walensky said.
President Biden was more direct, saying, "The bottom line is clear: If you're vaccinated, you can do more things."
Private businesses, public entities, higher education and entertainment venues have been preparing for life in a post-pandemic world. Many are eyeing vaccination requirements.
Seven colleges and universities in New Jersey will require students to vaccinated to return to campus in the Fall. Rutgers was the first to announce the requirement. Drew University, Montclair State University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Fairleigh Dickinson University and New Jersey City University have followed with similar requirements.
The NFL's Buffalo Bills announced they would allow full attendance for the 2021 season but fans will have to show proof of vaccination to enter the stadium. Other large venues are expected to enact similar requirements.
There has been some talk among those in the restaurant industry in New Jersey of setting up vaccination sections and non-vaccination sections for patrons.
Under existing state law, private businesses could require proof of vaccination as a condition of employment. Government entities would have a tougher time requiring a vaccine for workers because of collective bargaining agreements.
As New Jersey approaches nearly 7 million vaccine doses administered, there has been a drop off in the number of people seeking a shot. Public information campaigns are being launched on a state and federal basis but it is also being made clear public and private policies will be enacted to force more into inoculation.
The White House says Biden is not likely to support a national "vaccine passport," but will not oppose individual states and entities that want to create one. New York state has already created their own passport called "Excelsior Pass." Gov. Murphy is considering a similar passport in New Jersey but does have concerns.
The idea of requiring proof of vaccination has triggered privacy concerns. The CDC has not taken a position on passports but does list on its website what is currently allowed under HIPPA rules. They did, however, urge those who have been vaccinated to keep their CDC vaccination cards in a safe place.
Vaccine passports are also likely to become a highly political issue. Several red-leaning states have already moved to ban them. Attitudes vary overseas but more European nations are enacting laws to create proof of vaccination. Many nations that have an existing COVID-19 information app, are converting them to passports. New Jersey has a similar app, but has not indicated if that platform would be used to create our vaccination passport.
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