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Our View | We need all our health care workers to be vaccinated

Our View | We need all our health care workers to be vaccinated

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The most surprising fact in Ballad’s efforts to meet the federal vaccine mandate by Jan. 4 is that only 63% of the local health care provider’s workforce is vaccinated. That’s 5,000 of Ballad’s 15,000 employees who have chosen not to get vaccinated to protect the patients they come in contact with on a daily basis.

Forget the mandate, the public should demand that every health care worker who is able be vaccinated. Period.

Of all the places we go, health care facilities are the one place where we should feel confident the people touching our bodies and providing treatment have protected themselves against the coronavirus.

The fact that 95% of the region’s physicians are vaccinated is a bright spot, but what about the other 5% and what about the 37% of the overall staff? Do you really want to be treated by an unvaccinated physician, or cared for by a nurse, physical therapist or care team provider who has not been vaccinated? And how do we know who those staff members are? Shouldn’t we as patients have a right to know if the health care workers we interact with have been vaccinated or not?

Because of the immunocompromised exemptions and religious exemptions, the number will never get to 100%, but Ballad’s rate of 63% of their total workforce is much lower than expected given the public’s current vaccination rate of 45%.

The vaccine is not just to protect us as patients, but it is to protect the health care workers as well. Last December, when the new vaccine came on the scene, health care workers were placed at the front of the line because we needed them to protect themselves against the virus. We wanted our health care facilities to be COVID-free zones where we could be certain that those who treated us had protected themselves against the virus. That process is part of what allowed health care facilities to begin non-essential procedures again.

To learn that less than a third of those who work at our local health care facilities took part in that opportunity is disappointing.

The fact that 37% of our area health care workers are not vaccinated does nothing to instill confidence in a public conversation about the vaccine. A conversation already polluted with disinformation and outright lies on social media about the effects of the vaccine. Our health care facilities should be setting the example and leading the way with close to 100% of its workers vaccinated.

The NBA has a vaccination rate of 95%. The NFL has a vaccination rate of 94.1%. The fact that our local health care workers are only at 63% makes little sense.

It may not really affect our lives if the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers is vaccinated or not. It matters immensely if the people who work in the local emergency rooms have protected themselves against the virus, especially when we or our families experience a medical emergency.

Health care workers have had almost a year to get vaccinated. The public should demand that this situation be corrected and our health care facilities be staffed by vaccinated individuals as soon as possible.

Our health care workers shouldn’t need a mandate, a deadline and the threat of unemployment to do the right thing for our community.

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