The debate in America surrounding vaccines and vaccine mandates continues to rage on.
Recently more than 2,000 flights were canceled by Southwest Airlines, and opponents of vaccine mandates on Twitter – including a significant number of outright anti-vaxxers – have linked the cancelations to new Covid-19 requirements.
They believe that Southwest employees and pilots called out in response to the company’s vaccine mandate and have since shown their support for the seemingly anti-vax disruption online.
The alleged protest has since been dubbed as the #FreedomFlu, referring to the individuals exercising their freedom of choice to refuse the coronavirus vaccine.
The name is a play on the “Blue Flu” which is the name given to strikes undertaken by police officers in which a large number simultaneously use sick leave.
Similarly, many believe that airline employees are striking against the vaccine mandates.
It’s worth noting that both the airline and pilots union have said the numerous flight disruptions have nothing to do with the new mandates. Instead, they’ve blamed bad weather and air traffic control issues.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told media, “By the end of the day, we have significant numbers of airplanes and flight crews that were totally out of position.”
He added: “And … as any aviation expert knows, it just takes several days to get everything back aligned.”
Despite him denying the rumors, he made it clear that he did not support the mandate: “I’ve never been in favor of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate.”
The company’s requirement follows Joe Biden’s mandate — issued in September — on Covid vaccines for federal employees, federal contractors, and companies with more than 100 employees.
The #FreedomFlu has been shared by both those who are anti-vax and those simply anti-vaccination mandates. It appears as though the Twitter hashtag was pushed by alt-right activist Jack Posobiec, who has been posting a series of tweets with the phrase and retweeting supporters attributing him to the trending topic.
“As cops we had the ‘Blue Flu’. Pilots and air crews now have the #FreedomFlu, and I love it,” wrote former NYPD officer John Cardillo on Twitter.
Another tweet read, “I heard the #FreedomFlu is just absolutely terrible. Totally takes you out for as long as it takes for the losers in the White House to rescind their mandate on vaccines. Side effects: May bring the country to a grinding halt for a bit.”
Posobiec wrote of the hashtag, “#FreedomFlu comes from 1776. Covid comes from Wuhan. Get it straight!”
The rumors on the internet have gained traction with Republican politicians such as Ted Cruz and more supporting what they call a fight for “freedom” by employees.