Healthcare Workers Protesting Vaccine Mandates Need To Sit Down

by Kristina Johnson
Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Of all people, healthcare workers need to be vaccinated

The days of incentivizing vaccine sign-ups with cash and prizes seem to be winding down — the next big push to get the country vaccinated might be centered around employers who make it a requirement to keep working.

In the latest instance of that, two major healthcare systems that operate in North Carolina and South Carolina decided to mandate that their workers get the vaccine — or lose their jobs. Workers in both states have been protesting the decree, demanding freedom of choice when it came to the shot (I for one would like to see the Venn diagram of people who believe vaccines are a personal choice but that women’s reproductive decisions are not, because I’m pretty sure it’s just a circle.)

It’s a fight that will likely be flaring up all over the country in the next few weeks and months as more and more employers institute the same requirement. We’ve already seen it play out at one hospital in Texas, where more than 150 employees lost or left their jobs over a refusal to get the shots. A judge there sided in favor of the mandate, saying that the hospital was “trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients, and their families safer.”

I just legitimately do not get how healthcare workers, of all people, could disagree with the need to get vaccinated. I mean, there is a reason their hospitals aren’t filled with polio or smallpox patients, right? Vaccines simply work.

Plus, these people have seen the death and devastation of Covid-19 first hand — they’ve even felt it themselves. Literally thousands of healthcare workers have already died of the virus in the U.S. And they should understand better than anyone the need to protect the vulnerable — because even if they never get sick with Covid themselves, they could easily pass it on to their patients.

My son spent a lot of time in hospitals when he was a baby — we basically lived inside a children’s hospital for about 7 months straight at one point, and I truly cannot imagine how it would have felt to know that one of the dozens of absolutely incredible doctors and nurses who cared for him didn’t believe in science, or wasn’t on board with doing everything they could to protect their charges. Or even worse, that they valued their “freedom” over someone else’s safety (I guess it’s not altogether shocking, though — Americans absolutely love the freedom to do dumb shit that gets other people killed — see “gun control” for one prime example).

Doctors traditionally take the Hippocratic oath — a solemn pledge to do their best for their patients. Lines included in the modern version of the oath remind physicians of their “special obligations to all [their] fellow human beings,” and also that “prevention is preferable to cure.” In the Nightingale Pledge for nurses, they swear to “devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.” Are those not some of the best arguments for taking the vaccine you could imagine? Apparently both pledges might need a new line added wherein healthcare workers swear not to make their medical decisions based on memes shared by someone’s grandma on Facebook, QAnon conspiracy theories, and “wellness influencers.”

From everything we’ve seen and heard about the Delta variant and the Covid surges still taking place in different parts of the country — vaccine holdouts might only learn the hard way — but for healthcare workers and their patients, I hope it doesn’t take that much to change their minds.