Nebraska Governor: Somebody Shouldn’t Have to Make the Choice Between Keeping Their Job and Getting a Jab in the Arm

By Melanie Arter | September 13, 2021 | 12:55pm EDT
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, February 24, 2017. (Photo by MIKE THEILER/AFP via Getty Images)
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, February 24, 2017. (Photo by MIKE THEILER/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said Sunday that he’s talked to people who say if they are forced to get the COVID vaccine, they’re just going to get fired rather than take it.

“First of all, we have been encouraging people to get vaccinated. We've been providing information and encouraging people to reach out to their neighbors because vaccines work and they will help people, but it should be a personal health care choice,” the governor said.

“This is not something that the government should mandate, and somebody shouldn't have to make the choice between keeping their job and getting a job in the arm. I mean, it's just wrong. I've talked to people, a number of people who have told me if they made me take the vaccine, I'm just going to be fired. I'm not going to -- I'm not going to do it,” he said.

Host Chris Wallace pointed out that schools in Nebraska have mandated that students get vaccinated against a number of diseases.

“Why are those mandates that parents and your state must comply with and do comply with routinely -- why is it that they are not so objectionable and such a violation of personal freedom, but Biden's vaccine mandates are?” he asked.

“Well, for all those that you just listed, there's a long history that parents have had the opportunity to see how those things have been implemented. And there's still a lot of people out there who don't know what to trust and in fact this is really an outcome of what the CDC has done because they flip-flopped on so many issues, whether it's masks, or whether you have to mask if you've been vaccinated and so forth,” Ricketts said. 

“There's just a lot of people out there who don't know who to trust right now, and so, by having the government force it on -- you're not building the trust where we have the heart trust with those other vaccines. This is a process that's going to take time to bring people along, and that's why it should be a personal choice and not something mandated by the government,” the governor said.

Wallace said that he’s old enough to remember when the polio vaccine first came out and parents saw it as a blessing, and the state mandated it. 

“Again, if the polio vaccine is okay for parents and they have to comply with it to send their kids to school, why not for a lot of people, not just kids, the vaccine for this disease?” Wallace asked. 

“Yeah. I think this is very different from polio that has very devastating effects, and certainly we know if you're older, 65 years and older, that's were 83 percent of our deaths in Nebraska came from, we know this is really devastating, but we also know that nearly 87 percent of our 65 years and older population has been vaccinated, and if you're looking at young children, for example, here in Nebraska, we can look at the data and see that really children are at no more risk for the coronavirus than they are for the ordinary flu,” Ricketts said.

“And so, it's all about balancing off these risks, and the risk for this is just such where this is something that we shouldn't be mandating it. Again, the whole goal for all we are doing at least in Nebraska how we're doing it, is around making sure we're preserving hospital capacity and we've successfully done that here, even without doing statewide mask mandates and without doing vaccine passports,” he said.

“So let's keep the objective in mind, which is to be able to provide health care and which we have successfully done here in Nebraska by protecting our hospital capacity and not have the heavy hand of government come in and tell people what to do. They just want to hear it,” the governor said.

Ricketts said his state is tied for the third lowest mortality rate of any state in the U.S. for people who contracted COVID. He’s focusing on preserving hospital capacity to provide care.

“And again, we can look at the data specifically around children and see the risks. At last year in Nebraska, if you were aged 10-19, you were 26 times more likely to die in a car accident than you were of COVID-19,” the governor said.

“So, the president should look at the data, and maybe the president should attend one of the weekly calls his administration has with all the governors - he's not been on one yet since he's been president -- and maybe talk to some of the governors and ask them about what's going on in their states, because he appears to be pretty ignorant of what's going on in places like Nebraska,” he added.

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