This week, the rubber meets the road on New York state’s plan to fire medical and nursing home workers who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Upstate Medical University employees who cannot prove by 5 p.m. Monday that they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 won’t be allowed to work Tuesday and will likely be suspended without pay.
That is the warning Syracuse’s largest hospital sent out Friday in an email to employees who have not yet turned in paperwork verifying they’ve received the shot.
…Already, Van Duyn nursing home — the county’s second-largest long-term care facility — has halted new admissions as a contingency against the deadline, a spokesperson confirmed Friday.
In New York, workers who are terminated because of refusal to be vaccinated are not eligible for unemployment insurance without a doctor-approved request for medical accommodation.
When asked whether vaccine mandates are worthwhile if they exacerbate the pressure on hospitals they were supposed to relieve, mandate supporters contend the severe consequences and dismissal of unvaccinated employees are worth it in the end, even if they create short-term staffing problems. The justification is that unvaccinated medical and nursing home staff represent a danger to patients and residents. But those who are fully vaccinated can still catch the virus and can still transmit the virus, although they do so less intensely than the unvaccinated.
In Pennsylvania, a hospital chain decided natural immunity from past infection is as good as immunity acquired from vaccination, and is allowing staff who already had COVID-19 defer their shots for up to 12 months from the date tested positive.
The new governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, said Friday she is prepared to sign an executive order if necessary to declare a state of emergency to mitigate staffing shortages. Options include deploying the National Guard, partnering with the federal government, and asking the federal government to expedite visa requests for medical professionals.
According to the governor’s office, as of September 22, 84 percent of all hospital employees in New York state were fully vaccinated. As of September 23, 81 percent of staff at all adult care facilities and 77 percent of all staff at nursing home facilities in New York State were fully vaccinated.
On Sunday Hochul attended mass at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn and addressed the congregation.
“I prayed a lot to God during this time and you know what – God did answer our prayers,” Hochul said. “He made the smartest men and women, the scientists, the doctors, the researchers – he made them come up with a vaccine. That is from God to us and we must say, thank you, God. Thank you. And I wear my ‘vaccinated’ necklace all the time to say I’m vaccinated. All of you, yes, I know you’re vaccinated, you’re the smart ones, but you know there’s people out there who aren’t listening to God and what God wants. You know who they are.”
At this hour, despite the governor declaring that everyone in the state must listen to God and do as God wants, there is no complaint from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
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