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Boston University mandates all professors and staff get Covid-19 shots by September - or face being put on leave

Boston University President Robert Brown said today that optimism that all Boston University employees would get vaccinated against the virus proved unwarranted, so the school is now requiring that everybody who gets a BU paycheck either show proof of vaccination by Sept. 2 - or really good proof why they should be exempted for medical or religious reasons.

In e-mail to employees, Brown said he's not messing around:

The consequences for those failing to get vaccinated and who do not receive an exemption for medical or religious reasons may include additional public health measures not required for vaccinated people and, in some cases, being placed on a leave of absence until the individual is either vaccinated or the risk of infection from COVID-19 is deemed to have ended.

He noted that all students are being required to show proof of immunization and that he had hoped to avoid a mandate for BU faculty and other employees, figuring they might realize the importance of vaccinations and get shots on their own, but:

On May 28th we asked all faculty and staff to disclose their vaccination status and plan. To date, 72.1% of faculty and 76.4% of staff and affiliates have completed the survey or provided proof of vaccination. From this survey and from the uploaded vaccination information we know that only 71.3% of faculty and 73.6% of staff are currently or will be vaccinated by August 1.

These totals are significantly below what we need to safely return our campuses to near-normal operation in the fall. Accordingly, we are now requiring that all University employees and affiliates be vaccinated by September 2, 2021.

Brown wrote that the school will run vaccination clinics on its Charles River campus and that both BU-affiliated Boston Medical Center and its own medical school offer shots - and that the state has a Web site on which to find a place to get the shot.

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Comments

No major religion, not even the Christian Scientists, say that you should not get vaccinated.

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I assume that some amoral variant of an Evangelical church (same people who think Trump was a great, moral leader) will start insisting it's a religious issue and the Supreme Court will agree.

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Make America sick again.

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On Bowdoin Street?

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“ a book of fairy tales told me to” shouldn’t be a good enough excuse for anything.

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but then, there are no valid religious reasons for anything.

I did not notice when I posted this that Kinopio had more or less said the same thing in the previous post.

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Not the same as having a medical condition that prohibits getting the vaccine.
Though I’m sure religious zealots will come up with some doozies for why they are special and above getting vaccinated.

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Church affiliation is a choice. Religion is not a choice any more than sexual preference is a choice, at least in at least in American society/culture/law.

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Can't speak for everyone, but I recall directly choosing to no longer follow the religion I was raised with and know multiple people who directly chose to join a new religion or leave an old one. Are you saying that was some kind of genetic predisposition? Was Martin Luther some kind of "last common ancestor" of Catholicism?

I can't tell if you just really don't understand religion, or if you really don't understand sexuality.

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I understand that organized religion (church), exercised religion, and religion (faith) are different things. I also think whoever came up with the careful wording used in the 1st Amendment also drew a distinction between those three things.

I also think that it's considered blasphemous today to say there exists a gay gene, if that's what you're referring to as "genetic predisposition".

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but from what I've read, scientists are pretty sure that at least some portion of it is genetic.

I don't know of any study that shows that people are born with specific religious beliefs.

And I can personally say, while I never chose my sexuality, I absolutely chose my religion and I don't know anyone of any faith (or no faith!) who would deny that at some point they had to decide what they believed.

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While I desperately want all 50 states to eliminate all non-medical exemptions for all vaccines, it doesn't change the fact that "no major religion says that you should not get vaccinated" is totally irrelevant to the law. It simply does not matter. There's no "only the big boys count" clause in the First Amendment or in free exercise jurisprudence. It's about if the court believes the person is being sincere in their beliefs. (Versus, say, knowingly trying to run some scam.). You could say "I had a vision from God last night that the vaccines are Satan's work" and the courts don't get to say "nope, sorry, no religion holds that as a valid religious belief, no religious exemption for you".

This falls out of courts long holding that the First Amendment prevents courts from opining on what the doctrine of any particular religion is or on the validity of the beliefs of adherents. So if some anti-vaxxer claimed to be Catholic courts would not be allowed to judge whether opposition to vaccines is or is not valid Catholic doctrine.

(This is the same reason why courts will, for example, refuse to deal with a clause in a will that says something like "and X to Bob, but only if he's following true Catholic practices". They aren't allowed to determine what "true Catholic practices are" and so cannot determine if Bob is or isn't following them. The way to do this sort of thing is to say something like "and X to Bob, but only if Father Joe certifies in writing that that Bob is following true Catholic practices". That the courts can deal with since they only have to determine if Father Joe says "yes" or "no". However, if someone challenges Father Joe's determination ("He's wrong! Bob does A and B so Father Joe is totally mistaken saying Bob follows true Catholic practices.") they won't hear the challenge.)

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There's optimism, and then there's stupidity. It's a very fine line.

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Last summer I was in the supermarket where I ran into a neighbor - the only person in the store not wearing a mask. I asked him what the hell he was doing. "It's ok," he said, "I have a medical exemption."

That's...not how it works, not how it's supposed to work. If you can't or won't wear a mask in the store, you can do a curbside pickup: this supermarket offered it. Want to shop in person? Want to shop at some store that doesn't offer curbside? Sorry, a reasonable accommodation does not mean that you get everything you want, exactly as you want it, with no cost or inconvenience whatsoever to you, regardless of the cost or risk to others. Have some belief that your god or your pastor or your dear leader has told you to exercise your free dumb by breathing in the faces of non-consenting strangers? Sorry, you're in for a rude shock.

However sincerely held your belief that you cannot or should not wear a mask in some venue, unless you are not granted a reasonable accommodation that is available within the scope of the entity's doing its normal business, you have no case. Shut up and stay home.

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1) I should be able to do whatever I want if I think it's ok.
2) If you don't agree with me, you hate America.
3) All the other ones

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1a) This does not, however, apply to you.

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Some people have allergies, or histories of serious reactions to other shots, that recommend against getting this one. There aren't a lot of such people, but they do need to be accommodated and can't be banished from society.

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Those people can go live on Long Island (MA or NY, either is fine) or perhaps Cuttyhunk.

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they do need to be accommodated and can't be banished from society

Doing curbside pickup rather than strolling your unmasked unvaccinated self down the aisles is not being "banished from society". Now stop it, Ron, you're really working at being part of the problem here.

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I know of people who want to get vaccinated and can't due to medical reasons (such as allergies to vaccine ingredients). However, the ones I know are also diligently masking and avoiding crowded places because those medical reasons also make them especially nervous about catching covid-19.

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I know of people who want to get vaccinated and can't due to medical reasons (such as allergies to vaccine ingredients).

No one's denying that these people exist, although I'm curious about how many people, plural, you know who actually have such medical reasons. Personally, I know exactly one person who was advised to delay, not omit, the vaccine, because of an organ transplant. How many do you know?

However, the ones I know are also diligently masking and avoiding crowded places because those medical reasons also make them especially nervous about catching covid-19.

And I bet they're also doing curbside pickup. The point is that their mindset and attitude towards risk shouldn't be what dictates their presence in public when an alternative has been offered. It's called public health for a reason.

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How many do you know?

One was advised to delay until May to see if others with her autoimmune condition were reacting badly (they weren't), she's now fully vaxxed; the other suffers from lupus and is probably going to get vaxxed in August (another "wait and see").

And a friend-of-a-friend is currently undergoing chemo and has been told to wait until that's done.

I don't know of anyone whose been told not to get the vax at all -- well, not by their PCP, anyway.

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and will have to stop taking the immunosuppressants for a long enough period that the vaccine will have any effect at all, which is of course dangerous and needs to be scheduled in and worked around. I think that's going to be a pretty common case.

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so, I'm not some perfectly healthy people saying "yeah eff them sicks". I live with it, I get it. I also know that my survival and the survival of those like me is best achieved through getting vaccinated AND getting herd immunity.

Your "pretty common case" isn't all that common (one person in your social circles is not a lot). I think we need to stop pretending that a small number of people with authentic and relevant medical issues is what represents the threat to herd immunity.

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But you should also be smart enough to understand that not all immunosuppressants act via the same pathways.

Let the doctors handle this, please.

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But you should also be smart enough to understand that not all immunosuppressants act via the same pathways.

Oh, I am. And you should be smart enough to understand that you're not the only person who knows anything.

Let the doctors handle this, please.

The minute you decide to do the same, I'll be right after you, cupcake.

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As in, I bet that a good percentage of people with legit reason to not get a vaccine are on immunosuppressants or are otherwise immunosuppressed -- organ transplants, autoimmune disorders (including arthritis), some cancers, etc.

(I have no idea what percentage of the *total* population that would be. Not making any claims there.)

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Look, I got vaccinated as soon as I could through the state's system, and I implore everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. But it's foolish to think that there does not exist a very small population of people who, for legitimate medical reasons, are advised not to receive this or other vaccines.

Your anecdote about the mask is unfortunate, I'm willing to guess that your neighbor was never advised by a physician that has previously examined them to not wear a mask to protect their own health. But someone who has received sound medical guidance to abstain from something in the interest of their own specific health situation should be able to do so without fear of legal consequence.

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But it's foolish to think that there does not exist a very small population of people who, for legitimate medical reasons, are advised not to receive this or other vaccines.

Say it with me, Brian: curbside pickup. Curbside. Pickup.

Your anecdote about the mask is unfortunate

It's more than unfortunate, Brian.

But someone who has received sound medical guidance to abstain from something in the interest of their own specific health situation should be able to do so without fear of legal consequence.

Having to do curbside pickup is now a "legal consequence"? Help me out with this.

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I spoke against curbside pickup?

I would think that most people with legitimate medical reasons to not wear a mask (which is what your anecdote is about) or get vaccinated (which is what Adam's article is about), would likely have good reason to avoid contact with the general public as much as they possibly can. So, using curbside pickup sounds like it would be the preferred choice for such people. You have my agreement but I never disagreed with that piece of it.

You are the one who started with "NO exemptions, for any reason"

The story we are all commenting on is about a large, local university mandating something of its employees. Most of the people working for a university do not have jobs resembling shopping at a supermarket, so I'm really not sure why you are taking this so far down the "curbside pickup" issue.

What am I missing here?

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You are the one who started with "NO exemptions, for any reason"

Yes, and I stand by that, because creating the exemption puts others at risk. Unvaccinated people in a pandemic put others at risk. They cannot expect to have the same access to public OR private facilities as others.

The story we are all commenting on is about a large, local university mandating something of its employees. Most of the people working for a university do not have jobs resembling shopping at a supermarket, so I'm really not sure why you are taking this so far down the "curbside pickup" issue.

Have you ever been in the halls of an academic building? Ever been in a classroom or a lab? A campus gym/fitness center? How about a food service facility? Ever ridden an elevator on campus? There is plenty of potential for crowding in all these places. Let accommodations be made for the tiny fraction of employees who have legitimate medical reasons for not getting vaccinated -- accommodations that allow them to do their jobs without undue burden, but that do not bring them into contact with the public, students or other staff. Private wishes can't trump public health.

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I have been in a few of those places once or twice before, yes.

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I have been in a few of those places once or twice before, yes.

Great! Then you understand that they're potentially just as crowded as a supermarket.

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I feel like we haven't gotten any further here.

I see that above you have posted

I think we need to stop pretending that a small number of people with authentic and relevant medical issues is what represents the threat to herd immunity.

I feel like you are arguing against that with me. Just to throw a potential rate out there for this discussion; if there's a 1 in 10,000 legitimate medical exemption, and BU has an overall population of what around 50,000? So 5 people in all of the 50,000 people actively associated with BU? That can't be a real threat to herd immunity, can it?

I never once argued that medical exemptions should be anything but extremely rare and supported by sound medical judgement. Again, you are the one who led with "No exemptions" but seem to have now conceded that a very small number wouldn't pose a threat. I'm hopeful that the number of exemptions is 0, but if it must be 1, because of compelling medical reasons, I believe that we must allow the 1.

I have no opposition to the mandate as it was presented to us. I do wish we were at a place in modern civilization where we didn't even have to consider mandating something like this but I guess we're not civilized enough yet.

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So 5 people in all of the 50,000 people actively associated with BU? That can't be a real threat to herd immunity, can it?

Correct, but "herd immunity" is nothing but a cold psychological comfort if one of those 5 people gets into an elevator with you. So, why is it out of the question that these 5 people get a reasonable accommodation that allows them to do their jobs and/or study, insofar as that is possible, without coming into contact with others? Just like this guy I mentioned in the supermarket who, for all I know (although I am skeptical), had a legitimate medical reason not to wear a mask: curbside pickup was available to him as an alternative, and is what he should have used.

I have no opposition to the mandate as it was presented to us. I do wish we were at a place in modern civilization where we didn't even have to consider mandating something like this but I guess we're not civilized enough yet.

Agreed 100%. It's exhausting.

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I have a coworker who was hospitalized three times due to anaphalaxis after vaccination.

When she took her elderly parents in to get their vaccines, she was asked if she wanted one. She told them about her experience and they gave her a solid nope - even if someone drove her there, they still said it was a bad idea for her.

Her doctor agrees and is willing to put it in writing.

So, yes, they exist, but they are rare and easily documented.

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With respect to vaccines in particular, the same SCOTUS decision (Jacobson in 1905) that says states have the power to issue vaccine mandates under threat of penalty (in Jacobson's case it was a $5 fine) also said that medical exemptions to those mandates are required by the Constitution to exist.

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Asians lead with 62% being vaccinated. Whites are 47%, Hispanics are 39 percent, and Blacks are 34 percent.

BU Professors and Staff have a higher percentage than everyone !

Will we ever get to 100 percent? I doubt it.

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Maybe they already are at 100%. TFA said 72.1% answered the survey and 71.3% said they were vaccinated. Assuming they didn't mean 71.3% * 72.1%, that implies a ~99% vaccination rate which can be rounded to 100%.

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If everyone's vaccinated, it shouldn't be a problem for them to show proof of it and it'll be a nice comfort to everyone else. Good on BU for making sure of this and hopefully other institutions will follow suit.

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Except that all staff are being required to return to on-campus work as of August 16, more than two weeks before the deadline to show proof of vaccination.

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No tears shed here.

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because it would mean that they are assuming that “no answer” means “yes, I’m vaccinated”.

What they meant is that they are drawing a statistical inference from a large, but incomplete, sample. They don’t mean 71.3% * 72.1%; they mean that they have enough data to be able to state with a high degree of confidence that the actual rate is close to 71.3%.

They made two mistakes in presenting this. Giving the percentage of the faculty sampled in close proximity to the calculated vaccination rate suggests that the second number is computed from the first, which is false. And the number 71.3% is given as if the result is known with absolute precision, which is also false.

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because it would mean that they are assuming that “no answer” means “yes, I’m vaccinated”.

No because it could also mean mean that they counted "no answer" as "no answer". For example, they sent out 1000 surveys, got 721 back, and 713 contained "yes" answers. Given that result, they could extrapolate that 713/721 = 99% vaccination rate, not (1000 - (721-713))/1000 = 99% vaccination rate.

You can imagine this happening not because they are "incompetent" but because it's a case of the telephone-game. One person wrote up the survey results. It got forwarded to a press person who pulled out a couple of statistics who passed it on to someone else who reworded it.

Either way, I don't think it's clear enough from the summary to declare anything is "false". At best, it's ambiguous.

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It seems pretty clear that at the least, the administration seems to think that not everyone is vaccinated. But again, if they are, great - everyone just needs to show proof which they should easily be able to do. If not, then this is their cue to do so. Either way, I don't know why it matters to us what the current actual percentage is.

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You're assuming the survey has boxes only for "I am vaccinated" and "I am planning to be vaccinated at X time." If I sent out a survey like that, it would be something like:

Are you vaccinated? yes/no

If you aren't vaccinated, do you have a plan to be vaccinated?

Answers there would include "yes, my plan is thus-and-such," "no, I haven't made a plan," and "I am not going to be vaccinated, because _____."

And then presumably someone looked at the surveys, and saw that about a quarter of the people aren't vaccinated yet, and that they're getting a bunch of "I don't feel like it," "because you can't make me," and "Bill Gates! 5G! Microchips" in with more or less reasonable claims of medical exemptions.

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New England in general is top of the list for percentage of eligible people vaccinated, and MA as a whole is over 70% having at least one shot, close to 65% fully vaccinated (including the late breaking 12-15 age group). Moreover, college educated folks in this region have even higher vaccination rates - around 80%.

So if BU profs and staff are clocking in the 70s, they are typical of the region. If they have lower rates then that is very worrysome.

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https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/10/nation/latest-coronavirus-numbers...

The positive case numbers were in the double digits by late June and have been steady increasing since July 1st. Get. The. Damn. Vaccine.

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And the vast majority of hospitalizations (97%) and deaths (>99%) are unvaccinated people.

Delta signals the end of the Fuck Around portion of the program. We are rapidly entering the Find Out phase of the pandemic.

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