Vaccines are fantastic but should Covid-19 vaccines be mandatory?

Vaccines, antibiotics, X-rays, radiotherapy, organ transplants… There have been so many amazing discoveries and inventions in the world of medicine. Vaccines would have to be near (or perhaps at) the top of the list of the greatest inventions ever.
We don’t think, however, that teachers should lose their jobs if they aren’t vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine. Covid-19 vaccines are new and are still undergoing clinical trials. No long-term studies have been done on their safety (since they are new) and adverse reactions to the vaccines have been widely reported. Would anyone criticize a person who doesn’t want the AstraZeneca vaccine? Do people who refuse the AstraZeneca vaccine get labelled as anti-vaxxers? We all know that the risk of an adverse reaction from the AZ vaccine is fairly high, and that’s the reason people prefer the Pfizer shot. However is it fair to criticize people who also don’t want the Pfizer shot? We don’t think it is.
The vaccines also don’t significantly reduce the spread of coronavirus (hence the reason that travellers returning from interstate, from NSW to Victoria, don’t just need to show proof of vaccination but also have to produce a negative test and quarantine in their homes). Therefore, forcing teachers to take them is unconscionable.
To stop the spread of coronavirus, we need to increase the availability of Rapid Antigen Tests. If you test negative, you can go to work knowing that you can’t give it to anyone. If you test positive, you need to go into quarantine because you will likely spread it to others if you are in the community (and this applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated people).

Below is the email I have sent to the Victorian Premier (daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au), to the Ministers of Health and Education (Martin Foley, minister.health@dhhs.vic.gov.au and James Merlino, james.merlino@parliament.vic.gov.au), and to my local member for Clarinda (Meng Heang Tak, MengHeang.Tak@parliament.vic.gov.au).
Feel free to use this as a template to contact the Premier, the ministers, and your local member if you also believe that vaccines should not be mandatory.

Dear Premier,

I am calling for an urgent review of the decision to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for teachers.

Firstly, given the newness of the vaccines, any harmful long-term effects of the vaccines are not known and a lot of people are understandably hesitant to receive them. This is especially true of younger female teachers but not exclusively so. Making them mandatory may drive a lot of great teachers to leave the profession they love.

Secondly, the research suggests that while vaccinated people are less likely to require hospitalizations, transmission of the virus is still significant among people who have been infected regardless of vaccination status. If a fully vaccinated teacher (or any teacher) becomes infected, he or she will still have to isolate and that will still cause operational disruptions to classes. Since many teachers have already been vaccinated, why make vaccination mandatory for the small number of teachers who haven’t received a vaccination if the delta variant’s high level of transmission won’t reduce school disruption to any significant extent. Additionally, since the vast majority of teachers are under 60, and very few people under sixty are hospitalized anyway, mandating the vaccines will not reduce hospitalizations.

Thirdly, the timing may also present problems. If teachers leave the profession in the middle of Term 4, it may severely affect the way schools operate.

Fourthly, kindergartens have remained open throughout the pandemic with very few restrictions on the number of children who can attend and, yet, transmission in these open, well-ventilated centres has been non-existent. Again, given the high number of workers in early childhood centres that have voluntarily received the vaccine despite the fact that transmissions are not occurring in these settings, mandating Covid vaccinations will not provide any benefit to kindergarten communities.

Given that a large percentage of teachers have voluntarily been vaccinated, forcing the rest to be vaccinated with the threat of dismissal seems unnecessary and perhaps heavy handed.

In summary:

  • the vaccines’ long-term effects are not known (which is very concerning for a lot of teachers);
  • hospitalizations will not be reduced (in the relatively young teacher demographic); and
  • there will still be significant disruptions to classes when staff and students are infected (since the vaccines do not stop infection and transmission).

I am all for vaccines but the Covid-19 vaccinations have only been given provisional approval (due to the lack of long-term safety data) and they should not be made mandatory! I ask you therefore to review this decision.

Kind Regards,
Spiro Liacos


Here is another email I sent.
Email sent to the Premier, the CHO, and to the Ministers of Health and of Education.
Subject: We need our jobs and our students need us.
Dear Premier,
I hope you are well.
My name is XXXXXXX. I am a teacher at XXXXXXX.
I am writing to you about the PHO requiring teachers to be vaccinated. I am no lawyer (I’m a Science teacher), but (and I’m sure you know) that a Fair Work Commissioner recently argued that because the coronavirus vaccines are still in clinical trials, no-one should be coerced into receiving them (as per the Nuremburg Code).
Many teachers at my school do not want to lose their jobs (that they love) if they don’t receive a Covid-19 vaccine. Many of the teachers I have spoken to would rather wait until we know more about how effective they are and more about the risk vs reward profile that they offer (the risk of adverse reactions vs the reward of milder coronavirus symptoms). Many are young and they know that very few younger people get seriously ill if they contract coronavirus.
We do not therefore believe that it is too much to rethink the vaccine mandate. Summer is coming up, we can have windows and doors open, we will have air purifiers, and we can have rapid antigen tests. It would be a huge shame if teachers lose their jobs when they don’t even have coronavirus.
Please don’t force us to take these vaccines while they are still undergoing clinical trials to test for long-term safety and efficacy.
Kind Regards,
Name
Address
Teacher,
School


And here’s another.
Email sent to Victoria’s CHO, the premier and the Health and Education ministers.
Dear Minister,
My name is XXXXXXX. I am a teacher at XXXXXXXXXXXX.
The Public Health Order requiring teachers to be vaccinated will not significantly reduce the transmission of coronavirus in schools. I am therefore asking that the PHO be reviewed since there are alternatives available to us.
As you know, Covid vaccinations do not stop Covid. They reduce the symptoms of the virus, but a fully vaccinated person can still contract and transmit Covid. This is the reason that you require fully vaccinated Victorians returning from NSW to receive a negative PCR test and to quarantine for 14 days.
Therefore any teacher, vaccinated or not, can still transmit the virus to colleagues and students or be infected by colleagues and students. Anyone with symptoms will obviously have to quarantine and not return to the workplace until a negative test result is attained.
Would it perhaps be better to require teachers to undergo regular rapid antigen tests? This will ensure that teachers who do not have coronavirus can still teach and that teachers who do have coronavirus can isolate and receive whatever medical care is necessary.
Please don’t force teachers to be vaccinated to keep their jobs. Most teachers have already been vaccinated but we don’t want to lose the fantastic teachers (there are quite a few at my school) who do not wish to be vaccinated at this time.
Kind Regards,
Name
Address
Teacher,
School

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