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Sean Penn says that he believes all businesses, including the movie business, should take the lead in encouraging vaccination through mandates, with few exceptions made for those with medical conditions.
In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, the actor shared his thoughts around vaccine information access and hesitancy, telling the outlet that he believes vaccines are similar to safety measures around driving, like speed limits, and that everyone should be vaccinated outside of those who are medically unable.
“My deep belief personally, is that these [vaccines are] no different than having everybody being able to drive 100 miles an hour in a car,” he said. “This is one of those things that should be mandatory. That we all get with the exception — the very few exceptions — for those people who, for whatever medical condition, might offset it.”
Penn took the position that it’s on the businesses to step up and lead the charge when it comes to encouraging and implementing vaccine mandates. “I do think that vaccines need to be mandatory and I do think that business — all businesses, the movie business, all businesses — need to take the lead and to be not so timid in dealing with their collective bargaining agreement partners.”
The actor’s comments follow a public declaration that he would not return to work on Starz’ Watergate series Gaslit until all cast and crew had been vaccinated. For Penn, the country is beyond the point of allowing for hesitancy, and he says that he finds the persistence of certain hesitancies frustrating.
“There’s different kinds of hesitancies, right? So I don’t think that there’s much excuse to not know the information available anymore. Hence, that’s part of why I think it should be mandatory at this stage,” he said.
Penn added, “That resistance is based on a certain kind of siloed lack of imagination and understanding of anything that’s helpful to the human race. So I’ve become very frustrated by that, but I can only work within my own bounds and say that for me, that it should be mandatory.
In addition to his own return-to-work stance, Penn has also used his non-profit CORE, which he co-founded with Ann Lee, to team with businesses and local municipalities — including L.A. — on mass vaccination efforts like the Dodgers Stadium COVID-19 testing site. That was in addition to opening and operating free COVID-19 testing sites across the United States.
Following the authorization of COVID vaccines in the U.S., Penn’s work with CORE has continued to focus on providing testing and vaccination opportunities within underserved communities, communities of color, first responders and essential workers. This year, CORE offered for-profit COVID-19 testing for L.A.-based film and television productions, with 100 percent of profits being used to support free testing for underserved communities.
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