The day – Conservative caucus hears opponents of coronavirus vaccine mandates
Hartford – Bus drivers, teachers, nurses and parents spoke on Wednesday at the State Capitol over their opposition to employer mandates for the COVID-19 vaccine, targeting Governor Ned Lamont for commissioning vaccines for the school staff, educators and state employees by executive decree.
The Conservative General Assembly caucus held the hearing, made public by a press release ahead of time as an event “to hear the concerns of teachers and (health) workers who say they have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 vaccination requirements imposed by their employers “.
“I don’t come to the table here today to be anti-vax or anti-mask; I am coming pro-choice,” said Representative Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford. He said he had heard that unions do not stand up for people opposed to mandates, which he finds disconcerting.
Fishbein criticized the mandates passed by decree, bypassing the legislative process. He and Mike France Representative R-Ledyard stressed they were there Wednesday to hear from the audience.
France is the chair of the conservative caucus and is also running for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District.
When asked if they would hear of people supporting vaccines in the workplace, France said it would “hear from anyone who shows up.” The Day remained for the first two hours of the hearing, and the 44 people who had registered to speak at this point – with just seven speaking so far – all indicated on the registration sheet that ‘they opposed compulsory vaccination.
The hearing, which began shortly after noon, was still ongoing by The Day’s deadline, with more than 50 people registered in total.
Some have called the vaccine experimental, with Fishbein and France incorrectly claiming that the Pfizer vaccine has not been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. France said: “It has been argued that the Pfizer vaccine is approved; he’s not in the United States. It is the German version, BioNTech, that is approved, and it is not present in the United States.
On August 23, the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for people 16 years of age and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still only available under emergency use authorization, as is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people aged 12 to 15 years.
At the hearing, several Bristol bus drivers spoke out against the warrants.
Ashley Madore, who has worked for First Student for over a decade, did not receive the vaccine and said her choice “is between God and me. It is against God to put anything in my body.” .
Carolyn Pattrell, who has been a bus driver for 17 years, said she “will probably lose my job tomorrow. Well. There are a lot of bus driver jobs out there.”
Bristol Superintendent Catherine Carbone returned a request for comment – and a question on whether bus drivers would be disciplined or fired for speaking at the hearing, or for refusing to be vaccinated or tested every week – at First Student. The bus company did not respond to an email.
Bristol bus driver Trisha Connelly said she didn’t think there were clearly defined terms in the decrees and that a lot was left to interpretation. She believes that requiring weekly tests for unvaccinated people is discriminatory.
Representative Gale Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott, asked if any of the bus drivers asked if vaccinated people should also get tested, as they can also contract and transmit the coronavirus.
Kathleen Lopez, a substitute teacher at Winsted, said she had submitted a request for a religious exemption and was awaiting a response. If it is rejected, it will need to be tested. “I don’t want the swab in my nose,” she said. “I don’t know what’s in there. I’m afraid of it.”
The polymerase chain reaction test, or PCR, involves taking a sample of respiratory material by sticking a sterile swab into the nostrils.
In Connecticut, 68.1% of the population is fully vaccinated and 75.5% has received at least one dose. Lamont’s order is that state officials be vaccinated by September 27 or that they perform a COVID-19 test every week.
A Gallup poll in July found that 52% of those polled would support their employer requiring all employees without medical exemption to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and 38% are against it.