A Sheriff in California said on Monday that he will not force department employees or job applicants to be vaccinated against COVID-19, despite a state public health order mandating workers in “high-risk congregate settings” such as jails get vaccinations or are tested regularly.
In a video podcast posted to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page on Sept. 10, County Sheriff Chad Bianco had previously stated that he would not be mandating new or current employees of the sheriff’s department to have the COVID-19 vaccine, but maintained that he himself was “not an anti-vaxxer.”
“I’m not anti-vax, I’m anti-vax for Chad but that doesn’t mean that I’m anti-vax for someone else that feels they may need it, or that does need it, for high-risk categories, or even if it just makes you feel better,” Bianco said.
“A lot of department heads, different law enforcement agencies are coming up with policies or things like that, and as far as I’m concerned, I will not mandate a vaccine for our employees, we will not make it mandatory for any new employee to be vaccinated or current ones,” he continued.
“I believe that is a very personal choice and that you need to make a decision.”
Following the podcast, Bianco shared a statement on Sept. 13 in which he claimed that a local newspaper was set to publish a story about the podcast and an unnamed reporter had “cherry-picked statements from supposed health experts in an attempt to paint me … in a negative light.”
Bianco reiterated his position regarding vaccinations and what he described as “tyrannical government overreach,” noting that it is his constitutional duty and responsibility to protect the public. He added that the soon-to-be-published article was “nothing but sensationalism trying to gain readership and further divide us as Americans.”
“Over the past couple of weeks, the idea of forced vaccination has caused much concern across the entire country,” Bianco said in Monday’s statement.
“To repeat the context of the podcast, I will not enforce the vaccine mandate on Sheriff’s Department employees.”
A vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is seen in Los Angeles, Calif., on Aug. 23, 2021. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)
“The government has no ability and no authority to mandate your health choices. As your Sheriff I have an obligation to guard your liberty and freedom,” he continued.
“I am certainly not anti-vaccine. I am anti-vaccine for me. That decision should be made in consultation with your doctor after discussing the potential benefit and the potential negative side effects.”
“It is time our government and our politicians come to the realization that the only reason they exist is because ‘we the people’ formed our government to secure the blessings of individual liberty and freedom,” Bianco added.
The state of California has mandated that those working in “high-risk congregate settings” such as state and local correctional facilities and detention centers, get vaccinated or submit to twice-a-week COVID-19 testing. It also applies to health care workers and employees of nursing homes and the state gave employees until Aug. 23 to comply.
Bianco’s comments come shortly after President Joe Biden issued sweeping new federal vaccine requirements that could affect as many as 100 million Americans.
Biden last Thursday announced he will direct the Department of Labor to develop a rule that companies with more than 100 employees will require vaccinations or once-per-week testing for their workers, potentially affecting tens of millions of U.S. private-sector employees and health care workers.