A California Sheriff said Monday he will not be enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, deriding the government for “tyrannical … overreach” and criticizing the media for allegedly sensationalizing his stance on vaccines.
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco issued his first statement Monday, announcing he would not force his employees to get the vaccine while defending similar statements he made during a recent podcast episode. “Over the past couple of weeks, the idea of forced vaccination has caused much concern across the entire country. I will not enforce the vaccine mandate on Sheriff’s Department employees,” Bianco said in the statement.
“It is my responsibility to protect the public from the criminal element, as well as being the last line of defense from tyrannical government overreach. The government has no ability and no authority to mandate your health choices. As your Sheriff I have an obligation to guard your liberty and freedom,” he said. Bianco then clarified he is not anti-vaccine, but rather is personally against taking the vaccine and that Americans “formed our government to secure the blessings of individual liberty and freedom,” which includes choosing to take a vaccine or not.
Bianco defended his statements on the Sept. 9 episode of the department’s podcast, during which he said it is up to each individual to determine whether they want the vaccine. He also argued that natural immunity from the virus — which he said he recovered from — offered more protection than the vaccine.
“A local newspaper will publish a story about our last podcast concerning forced vaccinations,” Bianco said in his statement.”The reporter will use cherry-picked statements from supposed health experts in an attempt to paint me and the Sheriff’s Department in a negative light. This is nothing but sensationalism trying to gain readership and further divide us as Americans.”
“There is absolutely nothing in my podcast that was incorrect or irresponsible. It is factual and common sense based.” (RELATED: Former FDA Chief Says Biden Went Too Far With Vaccine Mandate And Made Jabs ‘Overtly Political’)
Data differs on whether the vaccine or natural immunity offers more protection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement in August, noting a study that found vaccines “offer better protection than natural immunity alone.”
However, a non-peer-reviewed Israeli study from late August found that natural immunity offered far more protection against the virus for those previously infected than those who relied solely on the vaccine for protection. Additionally, John Hopkins School of Medicine Professor Dr. Marty Makary said in August individuals who have already been infected with the coronavirus were seven times more likely to fight off the virus than those with the vaccine.
Bianco issued a second statement Tuesday noting his department is still working to ensure the safety of all employees. He said while he won’t impose a vaccine mandate, there are “extensive internal protocols and regulations” in place requiring employees to either voluntarily disclose their vaccine status or submit to regular, weekly testing.
“There is no law or mandate for all employees to receive a vaccine, so therefore I will not go beyond what the state requires,” Bianco added.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered in July all state workers provide proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing but some areas have implemented their own measures. Los Angeles County has mandated vaccines for all municipal employees while the city of Los Angeles instituted its own vaccine mandate.
Riverside County has not yet issued a vaccine requirement for municipal employees, according to the Los Angeles Times.