More healthcare providers are losing their jobs after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. RWJBarnabas Health issued a vaccine mandate back in May, which required all supervisors to get vaccinated by June 30th. Six providers, all of which were at supervisor level or above, were let go this week after they missed the deadline. The hospital also said it will soon require vaccines for all staff, with more details being released in the coming days.
Supervisors Walk Out
The health network said it wants to make sure all senior staff are fully vaccinated against the virus, so these individuals are healthy enough to do their jobs. If a supervisor were to come down with COVID-19, it could disrupt critical care operations and the facility’s chain of command.
“At RWJBarnabas Health we have an ethical and professional responsibility to protect our patients and ensure a safe, COVID-19 free environment,” the company said in a statement. “Regrettably, six staff at the supervisor level and above have not complied with the mandate and are no longer employees.”
On July 14th, the company added that 99.7% of all senior staff have either been vaccinated or received religious or moral exemptions, which comes out to 2,979 people.
The health network oversees 11 hospitals across the state of New Jersey, with more than 35,000 employees, 9,000 physicians and 1,000 residents and interns.
This is the second high-profile firing related to vaccine mandates. Houston Methodist required all 26,000 staff members to comply with the mandate by June 3rd, which led to 150 providers walking out in protest. These individuals then filed a lawsuit against the company, but it was dismissed by a federal judge.
What to Expect from Vaccine Mandates?
Private companies can issue vaccine mandates, according to the Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, workers may be exempt if they have religious or moral objects or have a disability covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Many hospitals say they won’t issue a vaccine mandate until the vaccines have received full authorization from the FDA, instead of emergency approval, and sources say the agency may not issue its final ruling until early next year.
Pennsylvania is quickly becoming the vaccine mandate capital of the country. The University of Pennsylvania Health System, one of the largest in the state, recently announced that it will require the vaccine for all staff members by September 1st. New hires will have to show proof that they have received at least one of the two-dose regime. The university is also mandating vaccines for all faculty, students, and staff ahead of the fall semester.
Many companies and state legislatures are pushing back against the idea of vaccine mandates. At least 20 states have either passed or introduced legislation that would prevent governments and private companies from issuing vaccine mandates.
The current vaccination rate across the U.S. is currently at 50% with new cases on the rise, thanks to the Delta variant.
In New Jersey, there have been 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 26,000 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic. Data from the New Jersey Department of Health shows that around 58% of residents have been vaccinated.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki recently commented on the idea of vaccine mandates during a press conference. “We know that some employers, hospitals, health systems, colleges, universities and local leaders have chosen to take this step, and we expect others to do so as well, but our role we’re playing from here is continuing to go community by community, person to person, making sure we are meeting people where they are to get the vaccine out.”
Don’t be surprised if your employer issues a vaccine mandate. It may be the law of the land as soon as these vaccines receive full FDA approval.