New: Amid a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” more than 40% of the nation’s nursing home and long-term health care workers have yet to receive vaccinations. https://t.co/e1vCaIfny7— ProPublica (@propublica) July 23, 2021
Certified nursing assistants make up the largest group of employees working in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, providing roughly 90 percent of direct patient care. They are typically overworked and underpaid, most earning about $13 per hour and receiving no paid sick leave or other benefits, said Lori Porter, co-founder and CEO of the National Association of Health Care Assistants.
Porter said she is not completely surprised by the low vaccination rate. It comes down to trust, she said, both of the vaccines and of facility administrators who now say staff must get vaccinated. Refusal may feel like empowerment. “It’s the first time ever they have had the ball in their court,” Porter said.
I don't like it, but it makes sense.
Two sisters, both nurses; one is vaccinated, one is not:
Her sister, Ashley Lucas, lives 900 miles away in Orbisonia, a small town of around 500 people about an hour south of State College. She’s a traveling certified nursing assistant at area nursing homes and chose to skip the vaccine.
Her fiance and her children, ages 12 and 13, are also unvaccinated. “I don’t consider myself an anti-vaxxer,” she told ProPublica, bristling that some might see her as reckless or ill-informed.
Instead, she said her decision was carefully considered. It never made sense to her, she said, that the virus seemed to strike randomly, with some residents getting sick while others did not. She said she is not convinced the vaccine would change the odds.
She’s also concerned after hearing that the vaccine could interfere with fertility — a contention that has been deemed false by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. It all leads her to believe more research is needed into the vaccines’ long-term effects.
“This is just a personal choice and I feel it should be a free choice,” she said. “I think it’s been forced on us way too much.”
I suppose yelling at her, or calling her stupid, or showing her pictures of Biden with young celebrities, would help? Her sister telling her to get vaccinated hasn't.
And again, the sweeping generalities obscure the thorny particularities:
“Nursing home workers certainly have the right to make decisions about their own health and welfare, but they don’t have the right to place vulnerable residents at risk,” said Lawrence Gostin, a health law professor at Georgetown University. “Nursing homes don’t just have the power to require vaccinations, they have the duty.”
Still, the issue is far from resolved.
“America is a highly litigious country,” Gostin said, “I expect the courts to consistently uphold nursing home mandates, because they are entirely lawful and justified. But there will likely be lawsuits at least until it is quite clear they are futile.”
Lawsuits are expensive. The only one cited in the article is the case out of Houston, where 153 employees who refused to get vaccinated were fired. That case is on appeal. Any others on the horizon? I don't think litigation is the sticking point people looking down from 30,000 feet want it to be. The real problem, as ever, is people; not systems.
Diane Peters is a registered nurse in the Chicago suburbs who last year worked at a nursing home and is now working at a senior rehabilitation center. She does not trust the science behind the vaccine and is unvaccinated. So is her fiance.
Everything about the rollout felt like propaganda, she said. Development was too rushed. Clinical trials typically take years, she said, not months. “I don’t think it’s safe right now, it needs more time,” she said she tells patients if they ask.
Most don’t, she said. Neither do her co-workers. She has only been asked once by her employer if she was vaccinated, she said, declining to name the company.
Peters guesses about 40 percent of her colleagues are also unvaccinated, but said no one likes to talk about it because the divide surrounding the vaccine is “surreal.” Staff members are tested regularly and are required to wear masks, she said.
She is doubtful mandates would stick. “They can threaten,” she said, “but a lot of nurses would walk.”
She trusts her instincts and her own research for now. When asked what would change her mind, she had one word: “Nothing.”
Yes, I think she's wrong. Do I think I can do anything about it? And, as the article points out, there's the problem of hospital and facility staffing. If you fire everyone who refuses the vaccine, how do you treat the patients? By overworking everyone else?