Stone Mountain police officers behind petition against proposed vaccine mandate

City of Stone Mountain seal on the historic railroad depot. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Stone Mountain, GA — Stone Mountain’s City Council is considering a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees, but has encountered resistance from employees.

About one-third of the city’s 32 employees are known to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to City Manager Chaquias Miller-Thornton.

During a recent City Council meeting, city officials revealed that some employees started a petition against a possible vaccine mandate. The city provided that petition in response to an open records request from Tucker Observer, and the records show that the city’s Police Department is behind it. The city also provided comment cards submitted by employees about the possible mandate.

To see the petition and comment cards, click here.

The officers created the petition and more than a dozen officers signed it, records show. The petition warns that the city will face a “more substantial shortage” of officers if the vaccine mandate is in effect. The petition cites several anti-vaccine talking points, saying the vaccines were approved “swiftly” with insufficient data, claiming the vaccines have caused “serious bodily harm and death in a small number of patients,” arguing that fully vaccinated people can still transmit the virus and suggesting that there’s “insufficient data” on the long-term effects of vaccines.

“We, the undersigned officers of the Stone Mountain Police Department, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, register our informed objection to any consideration of compelling personnel to receive the COVID-19 / coronavirus vaccine as a condition for continued employment,” the petition concludes.

Stone Mountain’s police chief did not return messages seeking comment about the petition.

Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that while the vaccine was created quickly to address a global health emergency, it was tested for safety.

“The vaccines were made using processes that have been developed and tested over many years, and which are designed to make — and thoroughly test — vaccines quickly in case of an infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19,” Johns Hopkins’ website says. “The vaccines themselves were extensively tested by independent scientists, and more than 100 million people in the U.S. have been safely vaccinated.”

According to Politifact, which cites data provided by the CDC, “More than 380 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from Dec. 14, 2020, through Sept. 13, 2021. In that period, [the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System] received 7,653 reports of death (0.0020%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.”

But the CDC notes, “A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.” CDC is investigating a few cases where vaccine recipients experienced adverse effects, but notes these severe side effects are rare.

While it is true, that vaccinated people can transmit the virus, data show they get substantially better protection from adverse outcomes than unvaccinated people, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Stone Mountain also received comment cards collected as part of its employee survey about the vaccine. The cards show that employees are asking about possible religious exemptions.

One employee wrote, “If my body is autonomous to the point that I can kill a human (abortion) being that it is dependent on it for life, then you, nor anyone else, have the right to require me to get a vaccine. No other vaccine is required. The Supreme Court has already established: my body, my choice!”

“You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours,” another employee wrote. “I may be vaccinated or I may not be. My choice – my business!”

Another employee asked why the city is even considering a mandate since the city’s workforce is small. Another employee said, “Please understand that forcing anyone to submit to medical imposition in order to retain their job is illegal, unethical, and clearly in violation of our Rights as American Citizens. The City of Stone Mountain is not a private company that can make specific employment decisions in violation of individual’s rights.”

The Stone Mountain City Council members will review the comment cards from the employee survey to decide their next steps.

Writer Patrick Saunders contributed to this story. 

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