By Michael Gleason
The anti-vax movement is very much alive and well in the Big Apple.
There is a bit of an elitist attitude when one who lives in an urban part of the country thinks of an anti-vaxxer, they may think of a person in a rural town somewhere in the south. People seem to not think that many fester in some the biggest (and most democratic) cities in the United States. This isn’t necessarily the case. While bigger cities tend to have more people who are likely to follow guidelines and get vaccinated, big cities have a vast population with people who possess different ideologies and opinions. New York is certainly not an exception to this and is not spared by the ever-growing anti-vaxxer movement.
Many gathered in Times Square on September 18, to protest what they perceived as draconian efforts to get the people of the city vaccinated. Protesters shouted in unison: “NO VACCINE, YOUR WORKFORCE, MY BODY, MY CHOICE.” This was in reference to the city’s mandate placed into effect on August 17, that citizens need to show proof of vaccination if they wish to dine indoors, attend entertainment such as movie theaters, concert venues, museums and indoor fitness. Not only do people who visit these places must show proof of vaccination, the staff who work at these places do to. This is a point of heated contention among many city citizens.
A week after the September 18 demonstration, a food court in the Staten Island Mall was taken by storm with anti-vaxxers. Many shouted the same “MY BODY, MY CHOICE” chant heard at the Times Square protest. This protest was in response to the city’s mandate requiring indoor diners to show proof of vaccination. Many of these protesters shouted ‘F*** Joe Biden’ and donned QAnon shirts. People who were not part of the protest and happened to be there while it took place expressed their support in the form of cheering on the protesters. Footage of the event was posted onto a hyper right-wing partisan website called Freedom News.TV.
To circumvent the vaccine mandate, several unvaccinated front line healthcare workers in New York bought fake COVID-19 vaccination cards off a woman online whose pseudonym is “anti-vax momma.” This woman is Jasmine Clifford, a 31-year-old who hails from Lyndhurst, New Jersey. She has allegedly sold approximately 250 forged cards via an Instagram account. Each mock-up costs $200. Clifford used Zelle or CashApp to accept payments. She did not work alone, her partner in crime was a 27-year-old named Nadayza Barkley, a medical clinic employee in Patchogue, Long Island. It is believed that Barkley had entered in fake vaccination data into the state’s immunization database for at least 10 individuals for an extra $50 on top of the $200 Clifford asked.