Sanford is following the recommendation of the American Hospital Association and requiring all employees to get the coronavirus vaccine to protect the health of its patients and the public. Avera and Monument, South Dakota’s other two big health care providers, are still wishy-washing on requiring employees to protect patients from the coronavirus pandemic. Worth noting: back in 2017, KSFY reported that Sanford and Avera both required all employees to get vaccines for plain old far-less-dangerous flu.
To our south, Nebraska’s biggest health care providers have all said yup, health care employees have to get the coronavirus vaccine, just like they have to get the flu vaccine:
The announcement was in a joint statement signed by the heads of Boys Town National Research Hospital, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals, Bryan Health, Methodist, CHI Health, Midwest Surgical Hospital, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, and Nebraska Medicine.
…“The pandemic is not over,” said Dr. Chris Maloney of Children’s Hospital. “…It’s around us. It is killing our neighbors.”
…Dr. Cary Ward of CHI Health echoed that assessment, saying the vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective…. Now, the science is clear. Nobody’s going to question the science of how effective and how safe these vaccines are.”
…The requirement of the flu vaccine is an effective parallel, which most hospitals already mandate, Dr. Ward said.
“Influenza is far less severe than COVID. COVID is far more prevalent right now. The vaccine is safer — or as safe — and is more effective than the influenza vaccine,” he said. “So it makes such sense right now, if we’re going to require the influenza vaccine, we would also require the COVID vaccine” [Kevin Westhues, Ashly Richardson, Marlo Lundak, and Gina Dvorak, “Nebraska Health Care Systems to Require Covid-19 Vaccinations,” WOWT-TV, 2021.08.12].
Rather than supporting this sensible health care policy, Nebraska’s Governor Pete Ricketts, who is apparently competing with South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem to see how many citizens a Republican leader can kill before the public revolts, saw an opportunity to recruit anti-vax nurses to work for the state:
Spokesman Taylor Gage confirmed that the governor made the choice to pursue nurses opposed to vaccine mandates after the region’s top hospital systems announced the vaccine requirement.
Gage said Ricketts’ office had heard from health care workers complaining about the loss of choice. The governor worried the mandate could lead to “more nurses leaving the profession,” he said.
“At the governor’s direction, the state personnel division consulted with state agencies to develop this recruitment effort,” Gage said.
Gage and others said the state aims to fill long-open state nursing jobs in the Nebraska Departments of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs and Corrections, to name a few [Aaron Sanderford, “No Covid Shots Required: Ricketts Behind Nebraska Ads for Nurses,” KMTV, updated 2021.08.25].
If I were in charge of state government, I’d want to state employees who want to serve and protect the public. Particularly in the case of hiring nurses and other health care professionals, I’d want to hire people who listen to science. The last health care workers I want to hire, not to mention have administering my IV or performing surgery on someone I love, are the ones refusing to get a safe, effective, and free vaccine, ignoring plain scientific data, and fueling the irrational and deadly anti-vax movement.
Hospitals, we count on you to set the tone for science and safety in our communities. Governors, you should stop undermining the hospitals and the science that backs the decisions they make to keep us safe.
Update 12:25 CDT: To his credit, Governor Ricketts is working just a little harder than Governor Noem to dispel anti-vax bushwah:
As he has before, the governor urged Nebraskans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, calling vaccination “the best tool against the virus.” He said that there has not been a single death confirmed to have been caused by vaccination and that there are no data supporting claims that it can cause sterility [Julie Anderson and Martha Stoddard, “Gov. Ricketts Declares Hospital Staffing Emergency, Announces Two Measures,” Omaha World-Herald, updated 2021.08.27].