There is no doubt the issue dominating the news and our email inboxes is the governor’s recent vaccination mandate, issued on Aug. 9. We share the concern many constituents in the 20th Legislative District, and beyond, have expressed. We do not support the governor’s mandate conditioning the employment for most state employees and health care workers on being fully vaccinated.
The governor’s COVID-19 transmission concerns must be weighed and balanced by the health concerns from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine reported by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) as well as personal, health and religious considerations. To not respect individual rights and neglect personal choice regarding medical decisions is leadership in a vacuum.
Many in our community have chosen to get vaccinated. Others contracted COVID-19 and have recovered, so they do not need the vaccine to provide immunity. Still others have made the conscious decision to forego the vaccine due to personal choice, health-related complications or religious belief. The personal decision to vaccinate, or not, is a decision that takes a considerable amount of thought. Above all else, the decision is personal and should not be mandated by the governor.
One only needs to watch television or listen to radio for a few minutes to see an advertisement for the vaccine. In that same minute, it is likely one will see an advertisement for any number of medications and their long list of side effects. You might even see an advertisement from a law firm informing patients of their rights and the potential for monetary compensation, if they took a certain medication and suffered adverse side effects — medications that went through years of research, testing, trials and attained FDA approval. For these reasons, we believe there are few people left in Washington state that have not already weighed the potential benefits and harms of the COVID-19 vaccination. That is what makes this mandate so dangerous to the free will of Washingtonians.
We are also concerned by the ease of which this mandate could be expanded to those employees outside of state government and the health care field. The vaccination mandate is overly broad and does not allow for alternatives but considers only one. It pits one’s strongly-held belief and medical choice against their ability to support themselves and family. We strongly believe the governor’s ultimatum is heavy-handed, unfair and unwise.
The extent by which the governor is exercising his emergency power is beyond the scope of its intent. Unfortunately, the courts have not reined in the governor’s power, and his majority party in the Legislature has stood aside in silent consent — a reminder of the governor’s monopolization of power and the lack of balance in Olympia.
Our delegation in the 20th Legislative District, and our Republican caucuses in the House and Senate, will remain steadfast in fighting for your rights and freedoms. We believe the governor’s vaccination mandate, as well as his mandatory mask mandates for school children, are fraught with problems and contradict statements and actions his administration has previously indicated were based on science and data. We ask that the governor to rescind his recent mandates, step outside his echo chamber and respect the individual and personal rights and freedoms of every Washingtonian.
Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, serves as Senate Republican leader. Sen. Braun, Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, and Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, represent the 20th Legislative District.