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No more messing around!

You want to go to Summerfest in Milwaukee next month? Prove that you are either fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus or have tested negative within 72 hours of walking through the entry gate. Otherwise, no music for you!

Do you work for United Airlines? How about Ascension Health? Or Tyson Foods? Within the next few weeks, if you aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 or ready to be regularly tested, you won’t have a job with any of them.

Is visiting Disney World or Disneyland your heart’s desire? Not without wearing a facial covering.

The powers-that-be within this country’s private sector are as tired of the COVID-19 global pandemic as I am. But, unlike little ol’ me, they have the power to compel people to get vaccinated against a horrific disease that has taken lives, taxed health care resources, and repeatedly disrupted day-to-day living.

It didn’t have to come to this, of course. Science has developed safe, effective vaccines against COVID-19. Public health agencies, in most parts of the United States (including here in Southeastern Wisconsin), have done an incredible job of administering the vaccines to eligible recipients at no charge.

The rub is, new strains of the virus are still infecting people, particularly those who haven’t been vaccinated. While the experts don’t yet know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve immunity for the overall population, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says the vaccination is a safer way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19.

Here’s a link to frequently asked questions about the vaccinations. I’ll wait here while you go read it.

According to the latest data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), 52.5 percent of Wisconsin residents and 46.3 percent of Racine County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The picture gets worse in some places – like parts of the City of Racine – where the vaccination rate is less than 35 percent. This dismal showing comes despite months of cajoling, incentives, testimonials, and neighborhood pop-up clinics.

The private sector isn’t messing around or listening to excuses. Business operators know that they can’t stay in business long term if employees and customers are constantly threatened by an illness that can be largely prevented with a vaccine.

So, the tough love drumbeat goes on.

  • Live Nation Entertainment, the country’s largest event promoter, is requiring all fans, artists and staff to show proof of vaccination (or a negative COVID test) by Oct. 4. “Vaccines are going to be your ticket back to shows,” says President/CEO Michael Rapiro.
  • The National Football League (NFL), which starts its regular season in just a few weeks, has a new policy that will require teams to forfeit and be slapped with a loss if a game is canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak among their unvaccinated players. Oh, and neither team’s players will get paid if that happens.
  • Closer to home, ManpowerGroup, the Milwaukee-based multinational employment service company, recently started requiring full proof of vaccination for anyone entering its headquarters building. When the company’s headquarters fully reopens in October, all company employees, vendors and visitors must be fully vaccinated.

It’s just good business. Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup Chairman/CEO put it this way in a guest column in the Milwaukee Business Journal:

“In most other parts of the world, the populations are clamoring to get vaccinated as fast as possible, suffering from shortages of vaccines. We are very fortunate to have the ability to better control the outcome of the pandemic with ample access to vaccines for everyone in the U.S.

“And the science tells us those that are vaccinated that become infected experience milder symptoms and much-reduced risk of hospitalization and death versus of those who are unvaccinated, with social and economic benefits for all of us.

“After much reflection, we believe that if we want things to improve for our people, our business, and the community, we need to be part of the solution,” Prising wrote.

Yup, part of the solution.

If we, as individuals, won’t be part of the solution (translation: do something for the greater good), somebody else is going to make us. That somebody is the private sector. And, it’s already happening.

Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...