A judge has reversed a ruling that revoked a Chicago mother’s visitation rights with her 11-year-old son until she gets vaccinated against COVID-19.
Rebecca Firlit, 39, has been divorced from her ex-husband and sharing custody of their son for seven years. But she told the Chicago Sun-Times that Cook County Judge James Shapiro stripped her of all parenting time with her son after asking her if she had received a COVID vaccine.
“I’ve had adverse reactions to vaccines in the past and was advised not to get vaccinated by my doctor. It poses a risk,” she said.
Firlit said that she had expected the virtual Aug. 10 hearing to be about child support, and was surprised to be asked about her vaccination status. “One of the first things he asked me when I got on the Zoom call was whether or not I was vaccinated, which threw me off because I asked him what it had to do with the hearing,” she said. “And he said, ‘I am the judge, and I make the decisions for your case.’”
Late Monday, Shaprio issued an order vacating that ruling. He did not offer an explanation for the change, according to an Associated Press report.
Firlit has not indicated whether she will get the vaccine. She has been speaking to her son on the phone, for now. “I talk to him every day. He cries, he misses me,” she told the Sun-Times. “I send him care packages.”
After the new order, she told the Sun-Times: “I’m extremely happy, I’m going to see my son right now.”
Unvaccinated people are facing more penalties and consequences as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to spike, particularly among unvaccinated Americans. Delta Air Lines DAL, -3.88% recently announced that employees who haven’t been vaccinated will pay a $200 health insurance surcharge every month. Companies such as Disney DIS, -0.09%, Goldman Sachs GS, -1.45% and McDonald’s MCD, -0.37% are telling employees to get vaccinated before they can come back to work.
Plus, San Francisco, Honolulu, New York City and other cities have made being vaccinated mandatory for entering indoor bars and restaurants, as well as to enter gyms, theaters and concert halls.
But the greatest penalty of all, of course, would dying from COVID-19 while there are three highly effective vaccines from Pfizer PFE, +0.34%, Moderna MRNA, -3.02% and Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +0.42% readily available that Americans can get for free. The World Health Organization warned on Monday that Europe will probably see another 236,000 new COVID-19 deaths by Dec. 1, and Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the U.S. could suffer another 100,000 deaths in the same time frame, mostly in people who remain unvaccinated.
What’s more, health experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics have warned about the rising number of children becoming infected with the delta variant. As of Aug. 19, more than 4.59 million children had tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, with more than 180,000 cases added the week before, alone — a more than four-fold increase from the new 38,000 cases reported in the week ending July 22. And Fauci told CNN on Sunday that mandating vaccines for schoolchildren is “a good idea,” albeit a controversial one. He likened it to the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, or the polio vaccine, which are required in many public schools.
“We’ve done this for decades and decades,” he said. “So this would not be something new, requiring vaccinations for children to come to school.”