Nationwide, mandates are being put in place requiring teachers, healthcare workers and those who work for companies that employ more than 100 people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs.

Vaccination absolutely — and dramatically — decreases the risk of contracting COVID or transmitting it. The evidence is unequivocal. Study after study has shown that vaccines work. Billions of dollars have been spent not only proving the vaccines’ effectiveness but instituting public education and implementation campaigns to encourage vaccinations to rein in this deadly disease.

We ask the question, then, why is a legislator who should be setting the example to do the right thing and should be imploring others to do so as well, purposely choosing not to be vaccinated himself?

Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, R-130 of Lyons, decided not to get a COVID vaccination against the advice of everyone from the U.S. Surgeon General to local public health officials. Then, he tested positive for COVID. Given his interactions with so many people, it is no surprise he contracted the illness, which by his own admission made him feel “like crap.” His wife was sick. His mother was sick. Neither of them are vaccinated, either.

Manktelow said he doesn’t know how he got COVID. It’s doubtful he knew whose hands he shook before he was diagnosed. He said his decision not to get vaccinated was based on undisclosed “underlying medical conditions.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, COVID vaccines can be administered to most people with underlying medical conditions. Not only that, people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems should receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID vaccine after the initial two doses.

To have public officials in positions of influence, such as Manktelow, ignore the truth and kowtow to the anti-vaxxers, either out of ignorance or as a bid for their votes, sets a terrible — and potentially deadly — example.

This isn’t about a political stance. Or conspiracy theories. Or mind control. It is not about a power-hungry government trying to control the population for an evil end. It is a universal plea to do everything to eradicate a deadly disease. It is about having enough common sense to protect yourself and others, and making sure that you don’t spread COVID by not getting it in the first place.

If you look hard enough, you will find exceptions to everything. People know people who had a bad experience, or got COVID anyway, or even died after getting the vaccine. These are anomalies. The majority who have been vaccinated have not gotten COVID, and of those, most all recovered.

Everyone, including Assemblyman Manktelow, has the absolute right not to get vaccinated for anything. But those decisions have consequences; first getting sick and secondly, having to comply with the caveats set in place for the unvaccinated.

This is not a contest between individual rights and doing the right thing.

COVID does not care about rights or philosophical arguments. COVID kills indiscriminately, irrespective of party or ideology. We should be listening to science, not misguided elected officials.

The Editorial Board at the Times is made up of Publisher and Executive Editor Mike Cutillo, Advertising Director Mark Lukas, and Managing Editor Alan Brignall.

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