By Taxpayers Association of Oregon
The largest labor union in Washington state reached an agreement with the state’s governor to allow for religious and medical exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a landmark example to Oregon and other states that are mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for public and health care employees. President Biden announced a nationwide vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees, but exempted the U.S. Postal Service which has 600,000 employees (nation’s 4th largest by some measurements).
In mid-August, Gov. Kate Brown mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for all public and health care employees or they will lose their jobs by October 18. Hospital beds are counted based on the number of staff available to care for them. Oregon has been rated as the state with the least amount of beds and hospital capacity. With the state forcing qualified health care workers out of jobs, this will mean even less hospital beds for people who may need them for any number of medical reasons. One estimate this mid-summer showed that nearly a quarter of all hospital staff nationwide have not been vaccinated which was similar to the low numbers of vaccinated among the CDC earlier this year. The fact that people who work in the medical field including the CDC are choosing to not get vaccinated should prompt our governmental leaders to focus on identifying and addressing their concerns if the state ever hopes to either increase vaccination rates or arrive at laws that are flexible enough to reasonably accommodate the people they are serving. It could be that many hospital workers had already contracted the virus, therefore have the antibodies and are under their doctor’s advice not to get the vaccine (doctor advices vary greatly on this). Are these people covered under a vaccine mandate? We report these findings to demonstrate how complex these situations really are for both lawmakers and employees.
Multiple petitions against the vaccine mandates for health care workers have gathered steam. On Friday, 9 Oregon State Police Officers and more than two dozen state firefighters sued Gov. Kate Brown over her COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state workers.
With more and more mandates and difficult decisions on how to address the Delta surge (for which Oregon was hit harder) it is more important than ever for employees and employers to speak up and share their voice, their unique challenges, their ideas on how to proceed. Their voices need to be a part of the discussion and be a part of the solution. Where are the virtual town halls by our elected leaders on this subject? Where are the meetings with Governor Brown and County leaders who are forced to implement these laws?