Mandates have been shown to increase the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations. Federal workers, staff in healthcare facilities and Massachusetts State Police are all under mandates to get the shot. Many private employers have also mandated vaccines for their workers, including airlines. Courts have thus far upheld vaccine mandates, even over union objections, as was the case with the Massachusetts State Police.
Given the high vaccination rate locally, is there a need for a mandate for municipal workers in Chatham, Harwich and Orleans, or across all towns in Barnstable County? Does it matter when 90 percent of fire and other department staff are already vaccinated? We say yes, and encourage towns to impose a mandate.
Especially in a resort area like the Cape, the importance of as many people as possible being vaccinated can't be overstated. It's not so much to prevent the spread of the virus but to protect the health of workers, who many be exposed to visitors from locations where vaccine acceptance isn't as high as it is here. Our high percentage of seniors also justifies a mandate, as failure to do so could endanger the most vulnerable residents. “I personally would not want to be taken to the hospital by an EMT who was not vaccinated,” Chatham Health Board member Richard Edwards said last week.
Some may see this as unnecessary government overreach. Health benefits aside, a vaccine mandate for town and county can only help boost visitors' confidence and therefore benefit the economy. We've seen what happens when people are reluctant to travel. This seems a small price to pay to prevent the pandemic from resurging.