Protecting Tennessee’s essential workers from Biden’s vaccine mandates

Published 4:17 pm Friday, October 29, 2021

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Every day I hear from law enforcement officers, first responders, airline personnel, healthcare professionals, and retail workers in the Volunteer State who are facing an impossible choice: either comply with the Biden administration’s sweeping vaccine mandate or lose their livelihood.
President Biden’s recent wave of vaccine mandates landed amid a dire labor and supply chain crisis. In August 2021, the U.S. economy had a shocking 10.4 million open jobs. The number of unfilled American manufacturing jobs remains more than double pre-pandemic levels, with 870,000 vacant positions. In retail, the 350,000 missing workers are expected to cost companies $223 billion by the holiday season.
Businesses are desperate for workers, and these open jobs translate directly to empty shelves and rising prices. As families pay more to shop at picked-over stores, President Biden should be doing everything possible to find a solution. Instead, the administration’s plan to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate is forcing millions of Americans out of work.
Although several of the vaccines developed to combat COVID-19 have proven to be safe and effective, the federal government has no business mandating vaccinations for individuals or forcing compliance on private companies. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination is a personal medical decision. Americans must be free to make informed decisions about their health, but Biden’s one-size-fits-all order infringes on those freedoms and inserts federal authority where it doesn’t belong: between a patient and their doctor.
Throughout the pandemic, our essential workers showed up to keep America running. They stocked grocery store shelves, drove trucks across the country, kept our planes flying, provided lifesaving medical care, and protected our communities, all while facing unknown risks. Now, they are being told their sacrifice wasn’t enough. No American — especially not our nation’s essential workers — should face the ultimatum of taking a jab or losing their job.
President Biden’s vaccine mandates treat these heroes like second-class citizens. That is why I am introducing the Keeping our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act to protect our essential workers from losing their jobs based on their vaccination status. The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Tennessee Ambulance Service Association joined local sheriffs and mayors to support this critical legislation to fight for Tennessee’s essential workers. We cannot count on the White House to advocate for Tennesseans’ best interests, but we can stop them from destroying lives and livelihoods with unconstitutional power plays.
Tennesseans know the president’s vaccine mandates will do irreparable damage to the supply chain and all but destroy the already failing labor market. It’s time for President Biden to listen to the American people and stop punishing our essential workers.
Over 38 million Americans struggle with hearing loss, but only about 14% regularly use hearing aids. For far too long, red tape and high prices have prevented Americans from getting the hearing aids they desperately need.
Along with former Congressman Kennedy, I championed bipartisan legislation to improve access to better hearing aids for seniors. My legislation was signed into law by President Trump in August of 2017.
It has taken four years, but last week the FDA has taken significant steps to make this a reality. The agency announced a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids that can be sold directly to customers without going through lengthy medical exams or fitting appointments.
The FDA’s recent announcement is the first of many much needed efforts to prevent regulatory barriers from blocking Tennesseans from accessing the treatment they deserve, and I will remain at the forefront of this movement to ensure better healthcare outcomes for every citizen in the Volunteer State.
(Sen. Blackburn represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate)

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