Health care systems across the country are dropping the proverbial hammer on unvaccinated employees. Patience has worn thin on religious exemptions, “personal freedom,” and Q-Anon crazy talk. It’s high time these folks either get the jab or lose the job.
Kaiser Permanente has placed 2,200 employees on unpaid leave for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. They have until Dec. 1 to get the shot and return to work or be terminated. Kaiser employs about 216,000 people in the U.S. and 92% of its employees are currently vaccinated, according to Associated Press.
On Monday, a UCLA anesthesiologist was escorted out of the medical center in Westwood, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, for attempting to come to work unvaccinated.
Dr. Christopher B. Rake took a video during his expulsion from the hospital, saying, “This is what happens when you stand up for freedom and when you show up to work, willing to work, despite being unvaccinated, and this is the price you have to pay sometimes. But what they don’t realize is that I’m willing to lose everything — job, paycheck, freedom, even my life for this cause.”
Rake received his medical degree from the Tufts University of Medicine in 2004 and did his residency at UCLA School of Medicine in 2009. He’s been certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology since 2010.
All UCLA Health employees are required to have both the annual flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as documentation proving vaccination or immunity to infectious diseases including measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, pertussis, and meningitis.
Rake is a renowned anti-vaxxer and QAnoner. He was captured on video in late August at an anti-vaccination rally in Santa Monica spewing misinformation about the Aug. 5 order from California Gov. Gavin Newsom requiring all health care workers to be vaccinated by Sept. 30.
In the video, Rake can be heard telling those gathered, “They want to force a vaccination or medication or treatment into my body that I don’t want. So they’re telling me, ‘Take the jab or we take your job.’ And I’m here to say no. That’s not OK.”
At Mass General Brigham, the state’s largest hospital, about 4,000 workers have yet to get their vaccines ahead of the Oct. 15 deadline, according to The Boston Globe. Without those vaccines, those workers will be out of a job.
“I’m hoping that it’s in the hundreds and not close to a thousand,” Rosemary Sheehan, chief human resources, told The Globe about the number of employees who will lose their jobs.
UMass Memorial Health Care has given its employees until Nov. 1 to get the shot.
If “we have to let go of unvaccinated workers, that unfortunately will impact our ability to provide the care and services to the people of our region,” spokesman Tony Berry told The Globe. “We will do everything we can to not have to resort to program closures, but … we may have no other choice.”
New York State’s largest health care provider, Northwell Health, announced Monday that 1,400 employees were out of jobs after refusing vaccines.
New York required that all of the state’s 650,000 hospital and nursing home workers be vaccinated by Oct. 4.
John Trinchino is a registered nurse. He was fired from his job at Staten Island University Hospital last week because he is choosing not to be vaccinated. He told The New York Times that since he had COVID-19, he believes he is immune to the virus and doesn’t need a vaccine, and it’s a violation of his personal freedom.
“All this is going to lead to is worse care for the patients, and I’m just disgusted by it,” Trinchino told the Times.
Katie Yarber, 35, is a nurse at Houston Methodist Hospital. She’s been a nurse since she was 21 years old. She is refusing the vaccine for religious reasons, she’s already had COVID-19, and she tells Reuters she’s wary of the long-term side effects from the shot. She’s been without a paycheck for the last 12 weeks.
“I kind of felt like it was a slap in my face,” Yarber says. “I went to work, I did my job, I did it with a smile. I was a really good employee.”
For the record: The Pope, along with bishops across North and South America, have urged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
At Novant Health, a North Carolina hospital network, 175 workers were fired Monday. Carolyn Euart, 56, was one of those let go. She told Reuters she’s refusing the vaccine because she’s been fighting cancer since 2008 and feels the risk from the vaccine was greater than COVID-19—which four of her family members have had.
Andrew Kurtyko is ready to walk away from his $90,000 nursing job at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in upstate New York for refusing to get the vaccine. He tells Reuters he questions the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. He’s asked for a religious exemption. If he doesn’t get it, he’ll be out on Oct. 12.
The irony is that most health care workers (doctors, nurses, emergency medical personnel, dental professionals and students, medical and nursing students, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, hospital volunteers, and administrative staff) have had recommended vaccines and often required vaccine mandates for years.
We say enough already. We depend on these folks to get us well and keep us well. Time has run out on this nonsense. Get the vaccine or find a new career.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.