Nurse’s union reacts to nursing home employee vax mandate | News
HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM)–One day after the state announced that nursing home employees must get vaccinated against COIVD-19, one of the state’s nurses unions is swinging back. The mandate said long-term care employees in Massachusetts must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 10th.
Workers in all 378 long-term care facilities in the state, plus the two soliders’ homes, are on a deadline to get the COVID vaccine.
Western Mass News checked in with the state and found out the vaccination rates of two of our local facilities with large COVID outbreaks in the past:
according to the Mass. Department of Public Health, the Holyoke Soldier’s Home has 83% of their staff vaccinated as of Aug. 2.
Jewish Geriatric Services Lifecare in Longmeadow is only at 73%.
Right now, the state is tracking the number of facilities with fewer than 75% of their staff vaccinated. They said that number is 155 out of more than 375 long-term care facilities in the Commonwealth.
However, the nurse’s union says the mandate steamrolls some of Union Members’ concerns.
Katie Murphy is the president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, a union representing nurses in the Holyoke Soliders’ home and other long-term care facilities around the state.
She said when the COVID-19 vaccine first became available, MNA members jumped at the opportunity to roll up their sleeves.
“When I think back 16 months ago, I think everybody I knew was jostling to get to the head of the line to get the vaccine,” said Murphy.
Now, the state is mandating that the hold-outs get fully vaccinated by October 10th. Murphy told Western Mass News the union does not support mandated vaccines.
“There is concern by the members, and we are a member-driven organization, the fact that it is still under emergency-use authorization…We also believe that there have to be exemptions for medical reasons,” said Murphy.
She said while she hasn’t had a union member approach her with a religious reason for declining the vaccine, there are members asking about medical concerns.
“Members have reached out to us and really said “I have a real medical reason why this vaccine could place my health and in fact maybe even my life in danger,” said Murphy.
While she said the vast majority of the members in MNA are vaccinated, she believes all the members should have their concerns respected.
“They can sit down at the table with management and kind of hammer out these concerns and challenges that everybody’s facing,” said Murphy.
The date to be fully vaccinated is October 10th, but the state wants the first dose done by September 1st, putting an even earlier deadline on the decision-making process.