Acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey thinks requiring city residents to proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 is tantamount to racist, Jim Crow-style regulation requiring individuals to “show their papers.”
“We know that those types of things are difficult to enforce when it comes to vaccines,” Janey, a Democrat, said Tuesday when she was asked if she might mandate “vaccine passports.”
“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,” Janey said. “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 [black, Indigenous and people of color] communities.”
“We’ve heard Trump with the birth certificate nonsense. 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,” she continued.
“Instead, you want to lean in heavily with partnering with community organizations, making sure that everyone has access to the lifesaving vaccine. As it relates to people who want to encourage their workforce to get vaccinated. We certainly support that,” she added.
Janey’s remarks drew criticism from politicians.
“When we are combating a deadly virus and vaccine hesitancy, this kind of rhetoric is dangerous,” City Councilor Andrea Campbell wrote on Twitter. “Showing proof of vaccination is not slavery or birtherism. We are too close to give ground to COVID. Science is science. It’s pretty simple — Vax up and mask up.”
“Anyone in a position of leadership should be using that position to build trust in vaccines,” City Councilor Michelle Wu wrote in a statement.
When we are combating a deadly virus & vaccine hesitancy, this kind of rhetoric is dangerous. Showing proof of vaccination is not slavery or birtherism. We are too close to give ground to COVID. Science is science. It's pretty simple – Vax up and mask up.https://t.co/twxS1PJqYY
— Andrea J. Campbell (@andreaforboston) August 3, 2021
City Council President Pro Tempore Matt O’Malley followed, expressing support for regulations requiring proof of vaccination for certain activities.
“If we want to get serious about addressing vaccine hesitancy, slowing the spread of the Delta (and subsequent) variants, and keeping our families, friends, and neighbors safe, then we need to take bold and effective action,” he tweeted. “We should be doing this in Boston.”
If we want to get serious about addressing vaccine hesitancy, slowing the spread of the Delta (and subsequent) variants, and keeping our families, friends, and neighbors safe, then we need to take bold and effective action.
We should be doing this in Boston.👇 https://t.co/d7GaKMBiMB
— Matt O'Malley (@MattOMalley) August 3, 2021
Janey’s comments came after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to require city residents to show proof of vaccination for indoor dining, gyms, and entertainment shows in a program called the “Key to NYC Pass.”
“This is a miraculous place, literally filled with wonders,” de Blasio said of his city. “If you’re vaccinated, that’s gonna’ open up to you, you can open the door. If you’re unvaccinated you will not be able to participate in many things. It’s time for people to see vaccination as necessary to living a good, full, and healthy life.”
Janey later released a statement saying Boston currently has “no current plans” to mandate proof of vaccination.
“Earlier today, I pointed out several hurdles facing communities of color with lower vaccination rates,” she said. “These hurdles should not be excuses, but we must consider our shared history as we work to ensure an equitable public health and economic recovery.”