Kraft commentary: Governor’s vaccine mandate tramples individual choice

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In just a few days, thousands of people across the state who have made the personal choice not to be vaccinated could lose their jobs as a result of Gov. Jay Inslee's mandate. We already have worker shortages in both the public and private sectors. Soon, we may face shortages of health care workers, public school teachers, police, firefighters and first responders. These people have dedicated their lives to their careers in many cases and are essential to the well-being of our communities. They have constitutional rights and should never be forced out of their jobs by the governor or anyone else.

Monday, Oct. 4 was the last day for state workers to get a shot to meet Inslee's Oct. 18 deadline. The governor has played hardball on his vaccine mandates, considered the strictest in the nation, and he continues to ignore the voices of the people in Washington. There have been many statewide rallies against the vaccine mandates.

The governor refuses to acknowledge alternative medications and remedies discussed between patients and doctors that are working for them to address COVID-19. He also refuses to recognize those who have had COVID-19 are already naturally immune. It should be your choice — not Gov. Inslee deciding what should go into your body.

We are now approaching 19 months under Gov. Inslee's emergency ruling — this is not how our government was designed to operate. I was among the first to call for the end of this emergency order more than a year ago. I fought hard during the 2021 legislative session to reform the governor's emergency powers by introducing House Bill 1381. The bill would have limited the governor's emergency powers to 14 days after a state of emergency proclamation, unless extended by the Legislature with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.

I was also among the first to stand up for your right for medical freedom. I introduced House Bill 1305, which would allow individuals the right to refuse any vaccination or related health measure, so you maintain control of what goes into your own body. Unfortunately, majority Democrats would not allow these bills to advance.

I share the frustration many of you have expressed to me. However, I am continuing to fight on your behalf and am not giving up. The stakes are too high to allow the government to trample our constitutional and individual rights. As President Reagan said, “Man is not free unless government is limited.”

Please stay in touch with my office on this issue.

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Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, represents the 17th Legislative District. She can be reached at vicki.kraft@leg.wa.gov.

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