Teacher who quit talks about decision not to get COVID-19 vaccine
Photo courtesy of Betsy Herren Elizabeth “Betsy” Herren, a former Williams Elementary School employee who refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
This July 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows a vial of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)
Long before October 18, Elizabeth “Betsy” Herren knew she was not going to get the coronavirus vaccine.
So, before teaching began this year at Williams Community Preschool – based out of Williams Elementary, where she worked as a teacher – she decided to let her superiors know that she wasn’t coming back.
âTeaching 3-5 year olds really didn’t feel like I had a good explanation for them why I would be there one day and not the next,â Herren said. âI just couldn’t see doing this to them. “
Herren is one of a handful of employees who have refused to comply with OAR 333-019-1030, which states that teachers, staff, and volunteers may not be involved in any school after the 18 October, unless they can prove they are vaccinated. against COVID-19 or obtain a medical or religious exemption.
Herren spoke to the Mail Tribune on Monday, at a time when several school districts were reporting that most of their employees were respecting the state’s mandate, while witnessing some protests about it from those who disagreed. .
On social media, the rumor circulated about a “national day of walkout” of school workers for having had to comply with similar mandates. A representative from the Medford School District said she knew at least four employees who had taken personal leave to be part of the protest, but had found replacements who could replace the instruction.
When asked about the division surrounding coronavirus injections, Herren said that even if she had complied with the mandate, she “would still support people in standing up for their medical freedoms.”
Herren claimed that many parents of her former students “fully supported” her decision not to accept the mandate – even removing their children from school because they believed she was an irreplaceable teacher.
Herren added that she had been encouraged to join the vaccine mandate lawsuits, but made the decision not to be part of it.
âI am so strongly advocating for medical freedom that I am stepping away from my post, but I really appreciate our program from a personal and community perspective,â Herren said. âWe are really able to serve the kids we take out of the woods and give them a lot of benefits before they enter kindergarten. So I would never try to sue them.
Herren’s story of not getting a COVID-19 vaccine began in early 2020, even before vaccines or coronavirus tests were available. She lost her sense of taste and smell for several days, but it happened when the district canceled classes due to snow, so she did not lack education.
âI was sicker than I ever was once in my life,â she said. âIt took me a while to get back on my feet.
Then, last summer, the delta variant of COVID-19 started to become widespread.
âWe had to close our class because of the kids who had it,â Herren said. “We had a summer session and had to close early, but I didn’t get sick because I already had it.”
This was a major factor in her decision not to get the coronavirus vaccine. Herren says she has “natural antibodies” to fight it off – and that she’s had a blood test to prove it.
Whether receiving COVID-19 once is reason enough for not receiving the vaccine has been investigated, as has been the case in Israel. But health experts in the United States dispute this, saying that this immunity has its limits and that a person infected with COVID-19 can benefit greatly from the vaccine.
There is yet another element in Herren’s decision. She says health officials “haven’t had time to test” the coronavirus vaccines.
Yet how vaccines can be so effective despite their rapid development is a question the Center for Disease Control and Prevention answers on its Frequently Asked Questions page. The agency first and foremost stated that “all measures have been taken to ensure that they are safe and effective”.
The CDC also said that three-phase clinical trials have been implemented on each vaccine – phases that “overlap to speed up the process,” but nonetheless “have been completed.”
Herren said she wanted to see “long-term results” from the vaccine, which she said “we won’t know for years.”
The CDC said vaccine surveillance systems are in place, “giving the CDC and the FDA the ability to assess the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in real time and ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are as safe as possible â.
Regardless, Herren is unequivocal in her position that she will never receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I trust my immune system more than the pharmaceutical industry [industry],” she said.
Herren has seen things on social media leading her to believe she would not be safe as the only unvaccinated person at Williams Elementary.
âI felt like I had a target on my back,â she said.
Regardless of her safety, Herren felt that by quitting her job, she was helping the school.
âThe nicest thing I could do was take a step back, at this point,â she said. “I want parents to feel safe sending their children to school, and if being there unvaccinated made it difficult for people to feel safe sending their children to school, then I would like to get out of the way. â