A press release from Assemblyman John Salka (District 121) in May 2020, informed us that he was working to provide protective masks to essential workers so that they would be equipped to fight COVID-19. Thus I was surprised to read in a recent Daily Star story that Assemblyman Salka, a registered respiratory therapist and a member of the Assembly Health Committee, is working with a lawyer to stage, “a seminar for health care workers and others who are interested in applying for a religious exemption from the vaccine mandate.”

Which side of this issue is Assemblyman Salka on?

I find it unconscionable that as a health care worker himself, he is looking to assist others to circumvent the mandate. This is not a freedom of choice issue — it is a public health issue. Mandating vaccinations is a logical step in helping to halt the spread of this disease, particularly with health care workers who can be in direct contact with a vulnerable population.

We are a nation of laws and regulations, many of which are designed to protect us. Several years ago a family member was a patient at Bassett, and it had a regulation that all staff were to “gel in and gel out” whenever entering and leaving a patient’s room. I’m certainly thankful that none of the staff decided that they had a “choice” whether to follow this mandate. If you are hospitalized, wouldn’t you want anyone treating you to be following all medical protocols, and hopefully be fully vaccinated to help protect you, the patient?

To paraphrase a recent column by David Brooks, “No one is asking you to storm the beaches of Iwo Jima; just go to the corner drugstore and get the vaccine!”

Susan Sklenarik

Oneonta

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