You probably heard about the New York hospital that has paused its maternity services as employees quit instead of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. “Six employees at the Lewis County Health System have resigned, and seven more are unwilling to get vaccinated, meaning Lewis County General Hospital will stop delivering babies for the time being.”
Little of the coverage of this hospital has noted that Lewis County has fewer than 27,000 people, the fourth-least populated county in New York, and there’s been little follow-up coverage noting that ten other employees have resigned, while another 13 chose to get vaccinated.
No doubt the “get vaccinated or get fired” approach feels good to the vaccinated who, in President Biden’s words, want to tell the unvaccinated, “Our patience is wearing thin.” But will Americans be as eager to enforce this policy when the people who chose to leave their jobs over their vaccination status have vital duties, especially amidst a shortage of trained workers?
Is the vaccine mandate worthwhile if it exacerbates the pressure on hospitals that it was supposed to relieve?
Many public-health experts paint the remaining unvaccinated as ignorant, paranoid, and uninformed about how vaccines and viruses work. But do those labels apply to health-care workers who don’t want to get a COVID-19 vaccine?
For example: “The Michigan Nurses Association remains opposed to mandates, saying they will drive vaccine-hesitant nurses to quit rather than submit to inoculation. The union contends such decisions are ‘best decided democratically by health care workers themselves and need to be subject to collective bargaining.’ A recent survey by the American Nurses Association found that roughly 13 percent of nurses did not plan to get vaccinated or remained unsure.” The Henry Ford hospital system in Michigan can now boast a 98 percent vaccination rate among its staff — but it also just announced it was closing 120 beds across five hospitals because of a staff shortage. The hospital system didn’t say the staff shortage is driven by the vaccine mandate, but clearly the world has nurses and medical staff who don’t want to get vaccinated.
A survey of University of Cincinnati Medical Center nurses conducted by the Ohio Nurses Association in August found that 136 out of 456 nurses who responded said they would quit rather than get vaccinated. In San Diego, “health care providers have reported over 1,700 requests for exemptions from the vaccine requirement — most of them based on religious objections.”
What if those needed workers quit, as some in Alabama fear?
According to Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, a few hospitals in the state have already opted for mandatory vaccinations, and the hospitals that haven’t strongly encourage them.
“Some of them have gotten over 80 percent of their employees vaccinated without going the mandatory route,” Williamson said. “So what we want to see is everybody get vaccinated, and we want that to happen in a way that doesn’t force people to make a dichotomous choice to either stay in health care and get vaccinated or get out of the health care system.”
Read more at National Review.