After New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared this week that all Gothamites will have to show proof of vaccination in order to "participate in our society fully," including having the option of going to restaurants, gyms, and theaters, critics made no bones about their view the mayor was overstepping.
One of the loudest, most significant criticisms of vaccine mandates came not from de Blasio's right, but from a fellow left-winger, who also happens to be the mayor of a major U.S. city.
Shortly after Hizzoner issued his vaccine decree, acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey answered questions about whether Bean Town should implement similar orders by calling vaccine mandates racist, which did not sit well with de Blasio.
What did she say?
"We know that those types of things are difficult to enforce when it comes to vaccine," Janey told WCVB-TV on Tuesday.
"There's a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers — whether we talking about this from the standpoint of, you know, as a way to, after — during slavery, post-slavery, as recent as, you know, what the immigrant population has to go through here," she continued. "Here, we want to make sure that we are not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston or disproportionately impact BIPOC communities."
In a clarifying statement issued after her comments made headlines, Janey said that "we must consider our shared history as we work to ensure an equitable public health and economic recovery."
How did de Blasio react?
Mayor de Blasio used his daily press briefing to respond to Janey's criticism and call her remarks "absolutely inappropriate," the New York Post reported.
"I am hoping and praying she hasn't heard the details, and has been improperly briefed because those statements are absolutely inappropriate," the mayor said. "This is a way to save lives, this is a way to stop the Delta variant, which is threatening the entire life of this country."
"I'm assuming the interim mayor has not heard the whole story, because I can't believe she would say it's OK to leave so many people unvaccinated and in danger," de Blasio added.
What's going on with vaccinations and minorities in NYC?
Yahoo Finance reporter Anjalee Khemlani wrote Wednesday that some analysts believe minorities could become "collateral damage" in New York City's vaccine policy as the Delta variant surges:
New York City data shows the city's vaccine uptake is lowest among certain demographics, particularly Black residents that account for the lowest, with only 31% reported as fully vaccinated. Latinos fare a bit better at 42%, while White residents are 46% fully vaccinated. By comparison, more than 67% of Native Americans and 71% of Asians or Pacific Islanders are fully vaccinated.
Dr. Oni Blackstock, executive director of Health Justice, said a one-size-fits-all approach isn't appropriate while the country is still trying to battle inequities to vaccine access and hesitancy.
"It's a challenging situation. While vaccine passports have the potential to decrease the spread of the virus and may be an incentive for some to get vaccinated, their implementation also has the potential to worsen existing inequities," Blackstock told Yahoo Finance.
Khemlani noted that vaccine passports could actually "penalize those who are hesitant or have concerns, especially as seen in Black and Latinx communities."