New Yorkers on New Covid Mandate: ‘Vaccinate or Die’

People walk on a street in New York, the United States, on July 20, 2021. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)
(Xinhua/Wang Ying)

As the Delta virus continues to spread across the United States some New York City residents are not buying any objections to the government mandating that businesses ask for proof of vaccination.

On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, while announcing the mandate – the first of its kind in the nation – said New Yorkers must vaccinate if they want to “participate in society fully.” The new measure requires all customers to show proof of vaccination to enter a variety of businesses including indoor restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters, to name just a few.

Many other local jurisdictions have imposed mask and vaccine mandates, but New York City is the first to demand proof. The move comes as virus cases nationwide are up 500 percent from a month ago, largely due to the Delta variant, which makes up 93% of all new cases, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Critics have raised civil liberty and abuse of power concerns, but three New Yorkers believe the rule is a must, despite these issues, because not to vaccinate puts too many lives at risk and would be irresponsible. Moreover, all are adamantly opposed to any misinformation that continues to fuel vaccine hesitancy.

“I like the idea of a mandate because the past year has been horrible with us being locked down for a very long time,” Queens resident Michelle Frankson told Sputnik. “New York was the epicenter. We lost a lot of people. I initially didn’t want to take the vaccine but I took it in April because I wanted to get back to living. I’ve been slowly dipping my toe, getting involved in more activities.”

Frankson, a retired veteran and educator, said all Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves and those around them.

“I still wear a mask. I think it’s unfair for those of us who have complied, gotten the vaccination and done the right thing to, at this point, be endangered by those people who aren’t thinking about their community. It’s not fair,” she said soberly. “The rest of us have shouldered the responsibility. To tell people we’re good, then now go back and say we have to start wearing masks again, that’s difficult to deal with.”

Noted psychologist, educator and New York resident Dr. Jeff Gaudere said Americans face unique dangers because of COVID-19, the explosion of the Delta variant and the reluctance of a significant swathe to be vaccinated.

“Until people understand that we have a responsibility to people and their families and not only to ourselves, we’ll be in greater danger,” said Dr. Gaudere, known as “America’s Psychologist,” who has a private practice in Harlem. “We’re one of the few countries in the world with more shots than people but people are not taking advantage. For them it’s about individual rights.”

While he said he understands the fear citizens may have about government overreach and their distrust of institutions, Dr. Gaudere said it is vitally important for everyone to keep their eyes on the bigger picture.

“We’re dealing with something that’s absolutely extraordinary and outside of human function,” he said. “It is a public health issue… I agree with the new mandate. But I understand the concerns people have about their freedom being taken away, vaccine hesitancy, the distrust Black people have of the medical community and instances of medical apartheid, which all puts them at risk. But at some point you have to stop the circle.”

Dr. Gaudere, one of the most widely sought-after experts in the mental health field, said those experiencing vaccine hesitancy and others who have resolved not to get vaccinated are counting on other people to get the shots.

“Those who have taken the shot understand that they are responsible to the community and their families,” he said.

The doctor predicted that politicians encouraging people not to get vaccinated will be on the “wrong side of history.”

“Unfortunately, this mandate is the last resort but we’re in a place now where if we don’t crush the virus now, we will not have anything near the life we once had,” he said. “It will be misery, death and long term effects.”

Andrea Blackman-Morris, a Bronx resident and retired legal secretary, told Sputnik the requirement is “life-saving.”

“They are asking you to save your life, save a child’s life,” Blackman-Morris said. “I find it very selfish the way people act.”

Blackman-Morris said it’s difficult to understand that self-centered, individualistic type of thinking, especially considering the death, devastation and the social, emotional, physical and economic toll the global pandemic has taken on families of the fallen.

“I’m exasperated by people’s ignorance and all the misinformation that’s out there,” she said. “It was the same thing in the past when people were dealing with smallpox and polio. People need to talk to their doctor and forget all the stuff they see on Facebook. We have to do our part, do the right thing.”

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