From the desk of Marlyn Piperno and Kimm Eulner
TRENTON, NJ – Two New Jersey legislators are calling on Governor Phil Murphy to move along when it comes to requiring COVID-19 vaccines for healthcare workers, most of which, have already been exposed to the deadly virus for two straight years. Many of those workers have natural immunity from being infected by the virus previously.
On Monday, the deadline for health care workers to comply with Gov. Phil Murphy’s vaccination mandate, Assemblywomen Marilyn Piperno and Kim Eulner appealed to Murphy to drop the executive order in accordance with relaxed Covid-19 precautions and in light of impending staffing shortages.
Murphy’s executive order requires health care workers to be fully up to date with Covid-19 vaccination, including booster shots, by April 11. Corrections officers and other employees in high-risk congregate settings have until May 11 to show proof of compliance.
“As New Jersey shifts from pandemic to endemic, it simply does not make sense to enforce stringent vaccine requirements that will exacerbate staffing shortages and harm essential employees,” Piperno (R-Monmouth) said. “Murphy has rolled back Covid-19 mitigation measures for government employees, schools, and students, and it has not contributed to poorer health outcomes. But yet, he is fully willing to fire frontline workers for refusing a booster shot. His decision unfairly threatens the livelihoods of workers who showed up when everyone else stayed home.”
Statewide school masking requirements were lifted by executive order on March 7. The governor also ended the mask mandate for executive branch buildings on March 10. The Statehouse stopped pandemic-era temperature screenings and Covid-19 vaccination status and test checks, removed Plexiglas screens in the Senate and Assembly chambers, and more recently, on March 22, it repealed masks requirements for employees and visitors the duo said.
“The governor says that we need to get back to normal, but there is nothing normal about a mandate that strips away bodily autonomy, testing alternatives and valid medical concerns as the health threat from Covid wanes. There is nothing normal about being forced to work overtime in a hostile environment because a department is understaffed,” Eulner (R-Monmouth) said. “The only way to get back to normal is if Murphy ends these discriminatory vaccine mandates today.”
The lawmakers are co-sponsors of a bill (A2585) prohibiting discrimination against front-line workers who have declined the Covid-19 vaccines and boosters. At the end of February, Republicans in the Assembly moved to force a vote on the bill, but were overruled by Democrats.
“Our front-line workers should be receiving thanks, not threats. The state should be asking for consent, not compliance. Liberty and prosperity, which have been a part of our state seal since 1777, should not be permanently marred by the actions of one administration,” Piperno and Eulner said.