Andrea Vuleta-Jensen of Jordan, Minn., jumped at the chance to take a full-time remote position in February 2021 as a project manager with MSP Communications in Minneapolis, a content marketer behind Mpls.St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business.
“They sold the role by saying if your kid doesn’t sleep at night, you can work in the afternoon, take a nap with him. Your child is your number-one responsibility. I just thought this would be a great role for this time in my life,” Vuleta-Jensen said.
“This is me going back into the workforce and one of the hardest times going back in 2020, 2021 is the daycare situation, finding a current job that is understanding of this child at home. So I just thought this would be good,” she added.
For nine months, the arrangement went smoothly with Vuleta-Jensen working with graphic designers and writers from her basement — until an email mandating the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in her inbox last October.
“What am I going to do? I just bought a house a week prior. How am I going to pay for this house? I have a one-year-old at home. How am I going to pay for living costs?” she remembered thinking at the time.
“I will not get it. I’m strongly against it,” she explained.
Medically, Vuleta-Jensen never felt the vaccine was necessary for someone like her, a healthy 30-year-old.
Morally, she couldn’t help but think about how her parents fled former Yugoslavia for a better life for their daughters.
“Coming from socialism, communism where things like this were forced upon people to work, to go to school, to be able to go into a grocery store … this is exactly why my parents made the decision to move my sister and I to the United States so in the future their kids never have to go through something like this. I felt like if I got this vaccine, it would go against everything my parents strived to do for their children and I just couldn’t,” she said.
Vuleta-Jensen made a passionate plea to her HR director in an email, but it didn’t work, she said.
“I am a remote full-time employee. I did the job from the basement of my home. We did Zoom meetings. I wasn’t around co-workers. I wasn’t around anyone,” she explained, reflecting back on that time.
“I’m spending every day and night crying. I’m having my husband, mom, dad, sister all doing their research, all trying to find a way I can keep my role or how I can fight this or what I should do. Honestly, for the first time in my life I was experiencing anxiety. I was having a hard time pulling myself out of it,” Vuleta-Jensen said.
“I was told I would be placed on unpaid leave starting on Nov. 1. If I chose to be vaccinated by the end of the year, the position would be given back to me,” she continued.
With no intention of getting the vaccine, she said she had no choice but to move on, taking a pay cut and working as a freelancer.
“This is a huge step back. This is counting every dollar that we spend now. I truly could not go anywhere because this was a policy being forced at all companies and my professional reputation was ruined. This was a company that knew a lot of people and a company that would be called to know what my status was, so I couldn’t go anywhere,” Vuleta-Jensen said.
MSP Communications did not reply to Alpha News for a request for comment.
Now, as some companies have dropped the mandate and the Supreme Court has weighed in, Vuleta-Jensen can’t help but wonder why it ever went this far.
“Being told that we can all be treated equally now is so unjust and people’s lives were ruined. At that time my life was ruined. My professional career was ruined and so many other people’s lives were ruined as well. So to say now this vaccine doesn’t matter, we can all be treated equally — what about all the people who lost their jobs, lost their homes, lost their lives? What about them? Do we just forget about them? It’s just not right,” Vuleta-Jensen said.
While disappointed with Minnesota’s election results last week, she implored people to not forget about the damage that was done to a young working mother like herself.
“My advice would be to fight. Without a fight we have nothing. Without standing up there’s no future,” she said.