State Commerce Secretary and GOP gubernatorial candidate Kelly Schulz Monday reiterated her opposition to government sanctioned COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
“I am not in support of vaccine mandates,” Schulz told MarylandReporter.com.
“I have been double-vaccinated. And I look forward to very soon getting my booster shot. Same with my husband-to make sure that he and I remain safe, and that our family remains safe,” Schulz added.
Schulz’s opposition to vaccine mandates seemingly conforms with standard Republican orthodoxy but is in stark contrast with that of several of the nine Democrats running for governor.
Among them is former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who told MarylandReporter.com last week that if he is elected governor he would require first responders, state employees, and children in schools to get vaccinated against the virus.
“I think we need that. As of November 3rd roughly two-thirds of Marylanders are fully vaccinated. And now with the Pfizer approval for kids ages 5 to 11, we have about a half a million children who will be eligible. I think that everyone deserves to feel safe in their communities. They need to feel safe at school and in the workplace…This is a pandemic largely of the unvaccinated.”
Sen. Cory McCray, D-Baltimore City, who supports Perez’s candidacy, echoed similar sentiments.
“The reason why COVID cases are low in Maryland is because we have a very high percentage of vaccinated residents. That (mandates) is something that I am open to.”
But the state’s GOP lawmakers disagreed, saying they back Schulz’s position on the issue.
Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-Carroll, said he is “adamantly opposed” to vaccine mandates.
“This is an individual decision that needs to be made by the person based upon their needs and their desires. From my standpoint, it is a matter of personal liberty. And I certainly do not think that the government should be mandating vaccinations. I think that that runs contrary to the American tradition and is a horrible idea.”
Sen. J.B. Jennings, R-Baltimore and Harford, emphasized that just because vaccines are beneficial does not mean that they should be required.
“I do not believe in mandates. I believe in choice…The word they use is ‘supposed to’ because that is what the CDC and other organizations that have guided us have said you need to do to stay healthy. But it is still a choice that people have.”
“I think that we have safeguards in place…If you are not going to get it, let us make sure that you are getting tested. I have no problem with implementing weekly tests for people who are not mandated to make sure that they are not carrying the virus around and infecting more people,” Jennings added.
While Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered the state’s hospital and nursing home staff to either get vaccinated or submit to routine testing, he has opposed more expansive mandates such as those coming from the White House.
In a statement on Monday, Hogan touted news that Maryland has administered more than 500,000 COVID-19 booster shots.
“Maryland has mobilized a robust network of vaccination providers, including pharmacies, primary care providers, mobile clinics, community health centers, and local health departments, and we have both the supply and the capacity to provide a booster shot to anyone who needs one. If you are eligible-especially if you are immunocompromised or have comorbidities-you should strongly consider getting a COVID-19 booster shot immediately for additional protection from this virus.”