Bare Truth by Rose de la Cruz
Bare Truth

Dealing with the unvaccinated

Sep 1, 2021, 12:38 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz

Columnist

Since we now have 22,000 plus active new cases because of the delta variant, I can’t help but be mystified at why some still hesitate in getting the vaccines.

I saw this gist in Washington Post about a judge in Cook County asking a mother (on custody trial) if she got the coronavirus vaccine. She said no and he revoked custody over her 11-year- old son. Here is part of the story:

When Rebecca Firlit joined a virtual court hearing with her ex-husband earlier this month, the Chicago mother expected the proceedings to focus on child support.

But the judge had other plans.

“One of the first things he asked me … was whether or not I was vaccinated,” Firlit, 39, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

She said she was not explaining that she has had “adverse reactions to vaccines in the past” and that a doctor advised her against getting inoculated against the coronavirus. “It poses a risk,” she explained.

Cook County Judge James Shapiro then made what the parents’ attorneys called an unprecedented decision: He said the mother could not see her 11-year-old son until she got a coronavirus vaccine.

The child’s father is vaccinated, the Sun-Times reported.

Firlit filed a petition to appeal the judge’s decision, her attorney Annette Fernholz told The Washington Post. In an interview with WFLD, Fernholz said the ruling was an overreach.

“The father did not even bring this issue before the court,” Fernholz said. “So it’s the judge on his own and making this decision that you can’t see your child until you’re vaccinated.”

I find the story both humorous and thought-provoking. Is the judge guilty of overreach?

Considering the viciousness and ferocity of the delta variant of COVID-19—which can affect families and communities without even a direct contact with the infected person but through the air wherever he/she moves—I think this has become a public health issue and a question of conscience.

Lesser sentences us herd immunity is within reach, but what happens if we fall short?

Judges in other states have granted lesser sentences to defendants who opt to get vaccines or mandated the vaccine as a condition of release from prison for some inmates. A judge in the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge offered some defendants the option of getting vaccinated instead of completing community service hours.

Two judges in Ohio have also ordered that some people receive the vaccine as a condition of their probation. Similarly, two Georgia judges are reducing sentences for some offenders who get a vaccine. In New York, judges in the Bronx and Manhattan have ordered defendants to get a vaccine as part of their rehabilitation and as a condition for seeking bail, respectively.

But the judge’s ruling in Chicago appears to be the first of its kind. Firlit and her ex-husband, Matthew Duiven, have been divorced for seven years, according to WFLD. Court documents show they have had shared custody of their 11-year-old son since June 2014.

The hearing on Aug. 10 had nothing to do with revising the custody agreement, Firlit’s lawyer said, so no one was expecting the judge to ask the boy’s mother if she was vaccinated. Firlit said she was befuddled by the judge’s question.

“I was confused because it was just supposed to be about expenses and child support,” she told the Sun-Times. “I asked him what it had to do with the hearing, and he said, ‘I am the judge, and I make the decisions for your case.”

The judge then revoked her custody of her son until she was fully inoculated. Firlit did not indicate if she would get vaccinated, but she said she is trying to appeal the decision because she believes the judge overstepped his authority. She added that taking a son away from his mother is “wrong.”

“I think that it’s dividing families,” Firlit told WFLD. “And I think it’s not in my son’s best interest to be away from his mother.”

The father’s attorney, Jeffery M. Leving, who did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment late Sunday, said he was not expecting the judge to ask about vaccinations or change the custody arrangement. But he said he supported the judge’s decision.

“There are children who have died because of covid,” Leving said. “I think every child should be safe. And I agree that the mother should be vaccinated.”

Over the past few months, the number of children contracting the highly contagious delta variant has increased exponentially, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The American Academy of Family Physicians has also warned that there is an increasing risk of unvaccinated children sustaining “severe and long-lasting impacts” on their health.

Firlit said she is struggling with the separation from her son, whom she’s only allowed to communicate with over the phone.

“I talk to him every day,” she told the Sun-Times. “He cries, he misses me.”

Schoolchildren

With the opening of school at Fall in the US, children have returned to physical classroom settings with some states requiring vaccination in campus (for older children, teaching and non-teaching staff of schools) while most others require the wearing of masks as protection.

The Education Department on Monday opened civil rights investigations of five states for policies banning school districts from requiring masks, upping the Biden administration’s battle with Republican governors.

About 62 percent of the United States population has gotten at least a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. The United States ranks 39th globally, slightly behind Brazil (about 63 percent).

Media people who succumbed to COVID

Broadcaster Marc Bernier’s last tweet, on July 30, derided his state’s agriculture commissioner’s call for people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“The greatest generation had to defeat the Nazis to preserve our way of life,” the Florida commissioner had tweeted. “[Y]ou’re only being asked to get a shot. So be a patriot.”

“Should say, ‘Now the US Government is acting like Nazi’s. Get the shot!’ ” responded Bernier, a longtime talk radio host at WNDB in Daytona Beach.

This weekend, the station where Bernier worked for decades announced that he had died of covid-19. It was the latest instance of the virus striking conservative media figures who once broadcast doubt about the vaccines to their audience.

Earlier this month, former Florida radio host Dick Farrel died of covid-19 after questioning the vaccines and decrying a “scam-demic.” He came to wish he had been immunized, friends and family said.

In Tennessee, conservative radio host Phil Valentine also changed his stance on the vaccine after being hospitalized. His station, WTN, shared a statement saying Valentine wanted listeners to know he regretted not being more “Pro-Vaccine.” A few weeks later, he died of covid-19.

Bernier, 65, had said on-air that he would not get vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

“I’m not taking it,” he said late last year to Justin Gates, a vice president at Sports Network International in Ormond Beach.

“Come on!” Gates told Bernier. “… Ever?”
“No,” Bernier said.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, a frequent guest on Bernier’s show, told the News-Journal that he was “numb” after losing Bernier.

“To me, this is a death in the family,” he said.

I just lost one friend to COVID, and he was fully- vaccinated but he had co-morbidities, which means he is still vulnerable to the delta variant.In past months, I lost a lot of colleagues and friends to COVID.

My take

At first, I was choosy about getting the Sinovac vaccines from China. But I was convinced by my sons that by the time your preferred vaccine comes, it may be of no use to you. So, I rushed to have both doses. But even after my entire family has had both jabs, we are not taking chances, so we don both face masks and shields if need be.

Since we now have 22,000 plus active new cases because of the delta variant, I can’t help but be mystified at why some still hesitate in getting the vaccines.

Please, for the sake of your family and your neighbors and friends, get that jab now. This is no longer about human rights but everyone’s rights to continue living. Will you deny us all of that!

Tags: #commentary, #columns, #BareTruth, #Covid19vaccines, #vaccinehesitancy


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