The Big Talk looks at Hurricane Ida, the end of unemployment compensation and can a school vaccinate your child without your permission?

CHAMBERSBURG – Every weekday morning on First News, the local – live morning radio information show with Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen features the big talk topics and opinion from local Attorney Clint Barkdoll.

On August 31, the Big Talk discussed the effects we could see from Hurricane Ida, what it means that the unemployment compensation is ending and what rights do schools have to vaccinate your children?

Hurricane Ida is coming to PA with a whole lot of rain

Flash flood warnings have cropped up on weather reports in the wake of Hurricane Ida coming up the east coast.

It’s pretty inevitable that we’re going to see a whole lot of rain on Wednesday, possibly into Thursday.

Flooding is often an excluded damage in many insurance polices unless you have a separate flood rider. Just water damage is often covered.

Barkdoll said, “You want to make sure your policy has you adequately covered based on where you live and what sort of structures you have that need coverage. You look at the forecast for tomorrow, I’ve seen anything as little as two, three, four inches of rain — which is still a lot — you see some that are even saying maybe seven or eight inches of rain. So to the extent you are able to today, take precautions. Make sure your gutters are cleared out. Make sure if you have things outside that might be subject to damage in that kind of water event try to get them somewhere where you don’t even have to get into the insurance claim realm.”

Don’t forget the sump pump. With the rain that’s predicted, your sump pump is going to be running a lot.

Being prepared is the best way to combat unpredictable weather patterns.

Unemployment compensation finally comes to an end on Saturday

With a whole lot of people out of the workforce because of unemployment compensation provided by the federal government in the wake of the pandemic (and it was extended through August), businesses have struggled for months to find people to work.

But that ends on Saturday.

Some states opted out early from the federal unemployment compensation, while others did not.

One troubling fact is the states that decided to opt out of the emergency unemployment benefit early, they have not seen a big rush back to the workforce.

So are people electing not to work? How are they replacing the income? The answers aren’t really there.

But still, a number of employers are holding out hope that these unfilled jobs will be find employees over the next few weeks.

Barkdoll said, “I’ll be interested to hear from our small business clients if they see an uptick in that starting next week.”

Senator Mastriano yesterday said he will introduce legislation that will provide unemployment benefits if you’ve been fired or forced to quit by an employer that required you to get vaccinated and you declined it.

That will be introduced late September. It’s not clear whether the votes are there to pass it.

Barkdoll said, “Obviously that’s something that can mean a lot to people in our area because we know of some employers, health care providers, that have mandated a vaccine as a condition of employment and at least for now, the guidance seems to be if you quit or got fired over that, you’re going to be ineligible for unemployment benefits.”

Ryan said, “What a winner that could be for the State Senator. The Democrats just love handing out money and on the Republican side alright, make a choice if you want or you don’t want. There are more studies that are coming out about antibodies.”

Jansen said, “It’s looking like natural immunity, I don’t know why that’s been consistently ignored as an opportunity to prove that you are a safer person, just like a vaccinated person is a safer person. There’s no one hundred percent guarantees on any of this, by the way, but it looks like the protection, the immunity given by having the virus is much more robust than the vaccine, which we know is wearing off. That’s why they’re suggesting a booster shot now. It seems like sometimes we get caught up in these arguments and everybody says follow the science, but it seems like a lot of science gets ignored for a long time.”

A local doctor that listens to the station told Barkdoll that last year during COVID, a quarter or possibly more of the medical staff in his building may have been infected with COVID and would have the antibodies, but they’re still going to be required to get vaccinated.

Barkdoll said, “It is odd to me from a public policy standpoint why there has not been a carveout for those individuals. That is the basis of that lawsuit as we know down at George Mason University. Those exact facts that the professor who is getting almost weekly or monthly antibody tests and he is suing George Mason saying he should not have to get vaccinated when his natural immunity would likely exceed what he’s going to get from a vaccine.”

It’s not clear yet what a court will do with that case, but the big question is if you can prove you have the antibodies, why would you need a vaccine?

Let’s talk schools and vaccines — can they give your child a vaccine without your permission?

With all the push around the country for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, schools — and school children — are not immune.

There has been some talk about possible vaccine clinics held in high schools, which begs the question: can schools give your child a vaccine without your permission?

A Pittsburgh state legislator is proposing any child 14 or over should be allowed to get vaccinated without parental consent. Another Senator from Delaware County is making the same proposal.

It’s still not clear if the votes will be there to pass something like that in the PA legislature. 

The state rep from Pittsburgh seemed to suggest that there are Republican votes there to pass it. They cite the fact that Alabama and South Carolina have recently implemented similar polices allowing children to get vaccinated without parental consent.

If anything like this would get passed in PA, it wouldn’t go into effect until much later in the fall.

If it did pass, could there be a clinic set up inside a school? Parents and school boards are going to have incredibly strong opinions about this.

So keep an eye on that when the General Assembly comes back in a few weeks.

Jansen pointed out, “Parents were questioning you get these waivers to sign off on when you put your kid in school and it’s the first day and this huge packet comes home and they have this thing in there if we can’t reach you, do you give permission for us to do whatever medically? And they’re afraid that could be used sort of in a loophole and here’s how they say they believe it’s been done in other school districts around the country. We told you there was a vaccine clinic that day. You didn’t specifically opt your child out, therefore we’re going to go to that waiver where we get to make a decision about your child’s health and we get to give you a vaccine. So parents were saying should I make sure that when I sign that I put on there very firmly when it comes to vaccines, no. I must be called or absolutely not my child would not be receiving it and what legal weight would that have?”

Barkdoll said, “That would have legal weight if the parents revisited that form. This issue is incredibly tricky from a legal standpoint at a lot of different levels.”

Currently in PA, minors can admit themselves for mental health treatments and there’s a carveout where they can authorize their own medical treatment in the context of a disease or issues that need treatment.

A vaccine doesn’t fall into that realm, but it’s inching towards that grayer area.

The Pfizer vaccine got FDA approval and it looks like Moderna may soon get the same approval.

The FDA approval says it’s good for children 14 or 15, even though it’s been authorized for 12 and over.

Barkdoll said, “So there’s a small pocket of children in there that even though they can still get the vaccine, it’s technically not part of the FDA approval.”

Could that be why the PA legislators chose the age of 14 for their legislation?

Barkdoll said, “If school districts or communities did clinics aimed towards this teenage population, certainly it would have to be publicized if they did it in a school building and I think parents just need to be really diligent in watching for when these things might be occurring because the problem I would foresee is if it’s not in a school setting, what if it’s just set up at some local community center? I think it’s going to be tough for a parent to prevent the child from just going over there and getting vaccinated if, in fact, this law is passed.”