Those of us who are vaccinated have had enough of this coddling. The 30% of Americans who remain unvaccinated because of ignorance or belief in conspiracy theories are threatening all of us. Because of them, a stronger variant, delta, is growing stronger each day. Variants to the virus thrive and get stronger as long as there are a significant number of people unvaccinated. Who knows how long the vaccinated are protected from an even more deadly strain than delta (the good news is that San Mateo has a 90% vaccination rate).

We can’t mandate vaccination but we can mandate that the unvaccinated cannot fly or use public transit; cannot work in health care facilities; cannot work at schools or in any government agency; cannot attend restaurants, bars, sports events, concerts, movies. Meanwhile, private employers need to mandate that all their employees be vaccinated. And we need to prosecute those who peddle false information about the virus.


On vacation, I was taking an early-morning walk on a Monterey County beach when I saw a couple approaching and the man’s sweatshirt attracted my attention. It had something to do with Trump and I was curious. So I stopped and asked to look. The slogan was “don’t blame me, I voted for Trump.” The couple said they came from Modesto where it was over 100 degrees and we talked about the weather, how cool it was here. In fact, the sun never appeared except at sunset during our stay. We exchanged a few sentences and then I said I was on the other side but it was good to talk to people who felt differently. The couple was overjoyed. All they had been getting were nasty looks at the sweatshirt. They agreed it was important for people with different views to talk to each other and we went on and on in this vein for a while. The three of us were feeling really good about each other and that we were doing something important. Then I made the mistake after mentioning that my father was a staunch Republican and I had even voted for Republicans in the past (distant past) that I said my grandchildren were much more progressive than I was. The wife said that’s probably because they have LGBT teachers. I felt sick and said I had to go.


An article from EdSource in a July issue of the DJ caught my attention. The headline: California students have unequal access to advanced math. That’s probably so. Students in many schools have not had access to calculus or teachers who know how to teach math. In fact, the drift now is to offer no advanced math in sixth grade for all students with the expectation that all students will do better. This kind of nonsense is only going to hasten flight from our public schools leaving the students behind at an even greater disadvantage.


Meanwhile a San Francisco teacher who is quitting after seven years writes in the San Francisco Chronicle “Our society has decided that public schools are the final frontier for social mobility. We don’t address issues like staggering wealth and opportunity gaps, the higher costs of higher education or the devastating effect of centuries of racism and systemic oppressions. Many parents are saddled with student loan debts, high rent, stagnant wages and we expect those stresses will not enter the classroom with their children. ... There’s an expectation that public schools, and public school teachers will be able to massage these barriers away through engaging lessons, relationship building and relentless positivity.” She concludes they can’t. She did her best. But she’s leaving. Many great teachers do stay but the challenges they face with today’s students are overwhelming. They need our support.


Noelia Corzo of Foster City, who is just completing her first term as a member of the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District Board of Trustees, is seriously considering challenging Charles Stone, Belmont mayor, for Supervisor, District 2.

She is running because the board needs more diversity. According to Corzo, she can offer a unique perspective as a working class mom of color. The board needs to reflect that diversity, she said. Assemblymember Kevin Mullin and former state senator Jerry Hill endorsed Corzo when she ran for school board; it is unknown whether these endorsements will be forthcoming for her supervisor race against Stone. While Corzo may not be as well known as Stone, who is also chair of the SamTrans Board of Directors and on the Caltrain Board of Directors, she will most likely have the support of many progressives who support her stand on equity.

Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at

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(3) comments

Ray Fowler

Hello, Sue

Columnists in the DJ draw attention from readers on both sides of the political aisle. On the issue of vaccination, it has been my experience, thus far, that participants in this forum... regardless of their political affiliation... largely support vaccination.

But are persons choosing to remain unvaccinated being coddled, and are political solutions like "no fly" lists where we want to go as a society?

I don't know.

One group of folks who reject vaccination plainly don't trust the science they have either read about or have heard broadcast by the media... and that science is coming from public health services. Science updates can be confusing and contradictory. Those same folks also see celebrities and politicians not following the science. You and I don't agree with their position, but their choices cannot be simply written off as "conspiracy theories."

Another group of folks who reject vaccination don't trust the government. Type into your search engine "Tuskegee Study." A refresher on experiments conducted by... wait for it... the CDC... might explain why vaccination numbers are low in some minority communities.

Perhaps we... left and right... blue and red... should invest some effort into finding out why unvaccinated persons choose to reject inoculation. Take their objections... restate them as questions then provide solid answers to those questions. That's not coddling; that's education. It's also a way to save lives.

In the end, perhaps we will be faced with implementing solutions like the ones proposed in today's column.

I don't know.


Sue: I thought you were "pro-choice." Strange that the knee-jerk reaction to "choice" is limited to one subject..


Ms. Lempert,

I am sure you know you are preaching to the choir. The points you make and the mandates you suggest are on the money. Those that are unvaccinated by choice, either by their foolish belief in one or more conspiracy theories or their selfish idea that their freedom is more important than the health of the community, need a wake-up call.

Money may indeed be a motivating factor. Hold them responsible for the entire cost of treatment for COVID if they contract it without being vaccinated. Hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their pocket, or their estate if they die from it, may have an effect. Insurance companies not covering unvaccinated COVID patients may give them a second thought. Hospitals may want to use a form of triage. If you come to the hospital with a broken leg or heart attack, you get right in. If you come with the COVID virus and have not been vaccinated you can wait in the tent outside until we get room for you, if you live that long.

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