Janey: "I Wish I Had Not Used" Slavery Comparison To Vaccine Mandates

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Boston Acting Mayor Kim Janey said she regrets the way she made comments about COVID-19 vaccine mandates after a press conference on Tuesday.

Janey, who was asked about the possibility of putting a vaccine mandate in place like the one in New York City, originally said there was "....a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers," going on to compare the need to carry proof of vaccination to the slavery-era, when Black Americans needed to carry papers to prove their free status. Janey also brought up former President Trump's "birtherism" conspiracy, which doubted the authenticity of former President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

Janey quickly issued a press release to explain the comments. The remarks later made national news.

On Thursday, Janey said she shouldn't have said it that way.

"I wish I had not used those analogies, " said Janey, "because they took away from the important issue of ensuring that our vaccination and public health policies are implemented with fairness and equity."

The mayor went on to say that vaccine mandates are exclusionary when so much of the city — like 40% of East Boston and 60% of Mattapan — has not been vaccinated. Janey also said she was working toward a vaccine mandate for city workers.

City Councilor Andrea Campbell, another Boston mayoral hopeful, slammed Janey's comments at a press conference of her own on Wednesday. "Absolutely ridiculous," she said. "I heard those remarks and was shocked." Campbell said in a statement that "this kind of rhetoric is dangerous. Showing proof of vaccination is not slavery or birtherism."

Campbell later said after Janey's clarification that the mayor's thinking is still wrong, because New York City saw a substantial jump in vaccinations after putting a vaccine mandate in place.

Other mayoral candidates like City Councilor Michelle Wu and former Economic Development Chief John Barros did not call out Janey by name after her comments, but offered more veiled critiques. Wu said she supported city-wide vaccine mandates for indoor activities and said city leadership should "build trust in vaccines," and Barros said "Any opaque messaging...not only endangers lives, it exacerbates existing health disparities, and puts our economy in danger."

WBZ's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) has more:

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Written by Chaiel Schaffel

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