Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Sunday implored police officers and other “essential workers” to get a COVID-19 vaccine but for those who do not, the Biden administration will introduce a program consisting of “education and counseling” in response.
In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” with anchor Chris Wallace, Walensky was asked to respond to comments President Joe Biden made during his little-watched CNN town hall on Thursday regarding his controversial vaccine mandate for the private sector.
“Let’s talk about mandates for adults. President Biden was asked about the quite controversial mandates for essential workers at his town hall this week,” Wallace said before playing a clip of Biden.
“Should police officers, emergency responders be mandated to get vaccines, and if not, should they stay at home or let go?” town hall moderator Anderson Cooper asked. Biden answered, “Yes, and yes,” to cheers from the audience.
Wallace responded by asking, “Now, mandates by government, by private companies of essential workers have generally worked…but as you know, there are cases of police officers or health workers or pilots are walking off the job rather than get the vaccine. Are you still full speed ahead on mandates for essential workers to get vaccinated?”
The CDC director noted that the administration would be rolling out the “education” program.
“We have seen that these mandates are getting more and more people vaccinated. Here’s what we know. The most disruptive thing that you can do to a workforce is to have a COVID outbreak in that workforce,” she said.
“That will most definitely not only send people home but it will send people to the hospital, and some may pass. What we know from the police workforce is there have been more deaths from the coronavirus over the last year and a half than all other causes of death for that workforce combined. So we believe it is very important to get these people vaccinated,” she added.
“There is a plan, should these people not want to be vaccinated, towards education and counseling to get people the information they need so that they are feeling comfortable in getting vaccinated,” she continued.
Wallace went on to point out that “we’re talking about public health here,” adding that should a large number of police officers — in Chicago, for example — refuse the vaccine and are then fired, that itself could create a nightmarish public health issue via a major spike in violence and crime.
But Walensky stuck to her guns.
“You know, the way you can down a police force is by having a COVID outbreak in that police force, so what we’re working to do is mitigate that from happening,” she said.
Biden initially announced a vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 workers in early September. Earlier this month, he followed up with a press conference noting that the mandate would be issued through the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) under the auspices of a little-used emergency rulemaking process.
Several state attorneys general have vowed to sue the administration over the mandate.
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