Three significant developments on Vaccine Mandates

1. US Supreme Court blocks Biden’s vaccine mandates for businesses

In a significant decision just released, the US Supreme Court has blocked President Joe Biden’s rule requiring workers at large companies to be vaccinated or masked and tested weekly. However, the more limited vaccine mandate could stand for staff at government-funded healthcare facilities.

Note that the US mandate was already less stringent than ours. NZ’s government only allows for double vaccinations, and doesn’t have the weekly testing option! Yet the more flexible US version still got struck down.

The majority decision (6-3) said:

‘[The mandate] draws no distinctions based on industry or risk of exposure to COVID–19. Thus, most lifeguards and linemen face the same regulations as do medics and meatpackers… This is no ‘everyday exercise of federal power’ … It is instead a significant encroachment into the lives—and health—of a vast number of employees.

‘Although COVID– 19 is a risk that occurs in many workplaces, it is not an occupational hazard in most. COVID–19 can and does spread at home, in schools, during sporting events, and everywhere else that people gather… That kind of universal risk is no different from the day-to-day dangers that all face from crime, air pollution, or any number of communicable diseases.

‘OSHA’s indiscriminate approach fails to account for this crucial distinction— between occupational risk and risk more generally—and accordingly the mandate takes on the character of a general public health measure, rather than an ‘occupational safety or health standard.” (our emphasis added)

Companies, businesses, sports clubs, schools and workplaces in New Zealand should be calling on the Government to ditch the divisive ‘no jab no job’ policy and allow for the use of COVID rapid antigen testing as an alternative for unvaccinated kiwis to access workplaces.

2. Pfizer CEO says two Covid vaccine doses aren’t ‘enough for omicron’

New Zealand’s “no jab no jobpolicy is based on being double vaccinated – but according to statements by the vaccine makers, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has just admitted that the two-dose vaccine does not provide robust protection against infection from the Covid omicron variant, and its ability to prevent hospitalisation has also declined.

Just over a month ago, he admitted that he originally expected a fourth dose 12 months after the third, but he told media that it might be needed faster than that. 

Does that mean that the vaccine passport is, by the manufacturer’s own admission, “not enough for omicron”? And does that mean that the “vaccine mandate” (based on double vaccination) is now invalidated and not fit for purpose? Is it now time to look at alternative measures including rapid antigen testing (RATs), as many have been demanding. A recent nationwide poll found significant support from New Zealanders for regular testing to be allowed as an option so that kiwis can keep their jobs. Just 27% were opposed (including 30% of those who are already double jabbed).

3. High level support for NZ using rapid antigen testing 

In case you missed it, a pharmacist says that the Prime Minister’s fiancé Clarke Gayford recently told him there had been a change to testing guidance from the Ministry of Health, which would allow Gayford’s musician mate to get a rapid antigen test instead of the slower more invasive PCR test. The pharmacist says Gayford gave inaccurate advice about testing guidance on behalf of his friend. The pharmacist said:

“As they didn’t like this they got Clarke Gayford on the phone who proceeded to tell me that there had been a change in guidance and these people should be given RAT tests. When I explained that we had not received any direction from the MoH he was very unimpressed.”

We’re stoked that Clarke Gayford is now a supporter of rapid antigen testing, and we welcome him to the campaign!

Here’s the bottom line
: It’s time to ditch the divisive ‘no jab no job’ policy and allow for the use of COVID rapid antigen testing as an alternative for unvaccinated kiwis to access workplaces, schools, marae, large gatherings, and places of worship.

Let’s get the country working together again – in a unified way – as we battle the challenges of COVID-19.

We haven’t given up on this issue. We hope you haven’t either!

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