Immediate End to NJ State of Emergency and Amendments to Vaccine/Testing Mandates
Immediate End to NJ State of Emergency and Amendments to Vaccine/Testing Mandates
This petition is written and signed by a group of concerned healthcare professionals in NJ, as well as signed by many other concerned citizens of NJ. We call for:
1) AN IMMEDIATE END TO THE STATE OF EMERGENCY. Although the public health state of emergency was formally ended by Governor Murphy in June, the broader state of emergency still persists, giving the Governor power to run NJ like a police state rather than a democracy. Under the Emergency Health Powers Act, he is able to make mandates that infringe on our freedoms and defy logic and science without being challenged through the usual legislative process during which we citizens would have a voice through our elected local officials. We call for the broader state of emergency to be ended immediately.
2) AN IMMEDIATE END TO ALL STATE AND EMPLOYER IMPOSED VACCINE MANDATES FOR THOSE WITH NATURAL IMMUNITY. We demand an immediate exemption from mandatory vaccination for those with natural immunity, most importantly for this exemption to be enacted prior to employer cut-offs for mandatory vaccination so that those with natural immunity can opt out of the vaccine without losing their jobs. As healthcare professionals, we have yet to observe a clinically meaningful, widespread surge in recurrent covid-19 infections. We have yet to see evidence that natural immunity to covid-19 wanes with time (is it a possibility in the future? Of course. But to date, we have no clinical evidence of that; on the contrary, those who have recovered from previous covid-19 infection seem to have better protection against even the Delta variant than the fully immunized do). To impose vaccine mandates on those who have successfully recovered from COVID-19 infection is neither medically nor scientifically sound practice, especially considering that longer term safety data is not available for any of the covid-19 vaccines, and even the immediate short term safety data we have is utterly incomplete. These vaccine mandates imposed on individuals who have natural immunity go against the general principle first outlined by Hippocrates in his work Of The Epidemics, the principle that states “first do no harm.” In general, healthcare practitioners take that principle to mean that you must weigh the risks versus the benefits of a treatment for each individual patient. Mandating the vaccine for those with natural immunity, especially for those in low risk categories (young, no complicating co-morbities, etc), exposes them to possible vaccine adverse effects with no added benefit. In addition, considering that this is a global pandemic, and less than half of the world’s at-risk adult population still has no access to covid-19 vaccines, it is a moral and ethical travesty to force vaccination upon people with natural immunity. We must keep in perspective the global nature of this pandemic and must work towards a broader global vaccination effort, especially considering the amount of international travelers that come through NJ. In summary, vaccine mandates for those with natural immunity violate the “first do no harm” principle as well as do the global community at large a tremendous disservice that will only serve to prolong this global pandemic.
3) AN IMMEDIATE END TO ALL STATE AND EMPLOYER MANDATED TESTING FOR THOSE WITH NATURAL IMMUNITY. Those with natural immunity should be given exemption from regularly required testing since, as mentioned above, we have yet to see a clinically meaningful surge in covid-19 reinfection and have yet to see evidence of natural immunity waning. Those who have fully recovered from covid-19 have not been found on any clinically meaningful scale to become reinfected and to subsequently spread the virus to others. Therefore, regularly mandated testing in this population is a meaningless waste of resources, an unfair burden on those being tested as well as on small businesses that are trying to do the right thing by either paying for or providing on-site testing, and unnecessarily invasive to the individual, yet again exposing people to potential harm with no clear benefit whatsoever.
4) AN IMMEDIATE MANDATE FOR REGULAR TESTING FOR ALL VACCINATED INDIVIDUALS. As has been clearly seen in the recent months, immunity from the vaccine is waning, and the vaccine is providing less than optimal protection from becoming infected by the Delta variant. Yet across the board, the only ones being required to undergo regular testing are the unvaccinated. For the same reasons discussed above, the requirement to regularly test those with natural immunity is medically and logically nonsensical. One could make an argument that the very few who are able to be granted exemptions from vaccination and are not naturally immune should be regularly tested in order to protect their fellow coworkers, patients, students, customers, etc. Yet even during the height of the pandemic, long before vaccines were available, a good majority of healthcare institutions did not regularly test their employees. This proves that the current testing requirement for the unvaccinated is less about keeping their employees and patients safe than it is about being punitive. If the regularly required testing is truly about following an ethical and professional obligation to keep people safe, then we demand an immediate mandate for all vaccinated employees to be regularly tested as well. They are just as able to infect others if they were to get sick as the unvaccinated are, so we demand that they also be required to be regularly tested effective immediately. And the requirement should be the same as for the unvaccinated who are granted exemptions, that they must be tested on their own time outside of work hours and using their own funding.
5) AN IMMEDIATE BAN ON VACCINE MANDATES FOR CHILDREN 18 AND UNDER. Scientists in the UK have recently come out against universal vaccination of those ages 12-15. The benefits of vaccination in this age group do not outweigh the potential harm that can be incurred from the vaccine. Unfortunately, the U.S. is slower to follow suit, and although not directly mandated, those 12 years old and up living in NYC must be vaccinated in order to participate in normal indoor activities that are a vital part of a child’s life (indoor sports, visits to museums, etc). Here in NJ, the Hoboken school district has already mandated vaccination for students 12 and up in order for them to attend classes. We call for an immediate statewide ban on vaccine mandates for those 18 and under. The safety data we have on the currently available vaccines is utterly incomplete at best, and what little data we do have shows significant enough adverse effects to warrant concern. Yes, this Delta variant is less forgiving to children than the original covid wave was but it still doesn’t cause serious enough complications in the majority of children in this age group to warrant mandatory vaccination. We need much more comprehensive and complete safety data, both short term and long term, before we subject an entire generation of children to these vaccines. We find the rush to vaccinate children to be more in the self-interest of the adults around them who are scared of contracting covid rather than in the best interest of children. And forcing vaccination upon otherwise healthy young individuals is again an ethical and moral affront to the hundreds of millions of high risk adults across the globe who have no access to vaccines yet.
6) THE IMMEDIATE COVERAGE OF ALL COVID-19 VACCINES BY THE NATIONAL VACCINE INJURY COMPENSATION PROGRAM. Due to the declaration of a nationwide public health emergency in 2020, none of the covid-19 vaccines fall under the protection of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). We call for this to immediately be changed so that those who experience serious injury from these vaccines can have some sort of support in dealing with the injuries they sustain. Not only are the vaccines not covered by the VICP, but the wording of many of the consent forms individuals must sign in order to receive the vaccine places all responsibility for any reactions solely on the individual (sample wording from CVS Pharmacy covid-19 vaccine consent forms as of 8/2021: “I voluntarily assume full responsibility for any reactions or consequences that may result.”) We implore the medical community at large and governing bodies in the state of NJ to acknowledge how violating and demoralizing it is for an individual to be mandated against their will to receive a vaccine in order to keep their job without having enough safety or efficacy data to truly give informed consent, and additionally, not to have the reassurance that there will be somewhere they can turn to should they experience vaccine injury. We demand an immediate pause on all employer mandated vaccination deadlines until the vaccines can gain coverage under the VICP. Any action less than that is a total violation of human dignity, bodily autonomy, informed consent, and the right to refuse.
As stated before, we make these demands as concerned healthcare professionals, not as “anti-vaxxers”, conspiracy theorists, or anarchists. We all have worked hard to reach where we are in our healthcare careers, and we believe in medicine and science and data. Many of us risked our own lives and the lives of our families during the height of the pandemic to care for the sick as best as we could. We saw the morgue trucks filled with bodies, we saw the unthinkable amount of patients on ventilators, we don’t deny the seriousness or the danger of this virus. But we also see so many mandates being handed down from above that don’t make any medical sense, are punitive and coercive in nature, and violate the principle “first do no harm” as well as violating every individual’s right to fully informed consent. Therefore we demand that our concerns be heard by NJ employers as well as by the very people whom WE have elected and whose salaries WE pay with our tax dollars. After alI, if we cannot voice our concerns and have them be heard, what kind of a democracy is that?