July 23, 2021
In pandemic land, there are a couple of things becoming clearer. First, it’s a long way from over. No matter what we hope, the reality continues to be devastating. Secondly, it could be even worst than before because our political will, domestically and internationally, has now been broken. This isn’t news of course. Politics has been trumping public health for the last twenty months or more.
This time the Delta Variant is bringing back our masks and social distancing, vaccinated or not. It’s hitting young people between 20 and 40 with any comorbidity especially hard, and many are not vaccinated. States with abysmally low vax rates like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas are getting hammered. It’s not a good thing, but fear has recently pushed the new vaccination rates up in these nonperforming states higher than the rest of the country, as some are finally playing catchup. Republican Congressman and Minority Whip Steve Scalise from Louisiana had his picture taken after he finally got the shot over the weekend after all this time. Friends and neighbors, there’s a big message there – even the hardest core and reddest pols are now worried that they need to get folks vaccinated or this political polarization could end up killing off significant parts of the Trump Republican base.
People need to face the facts. We’re moving towards mandatory vaccinations whether we call them that or not. Hospitals and universities are lining the runways to implement this requirement. The Ochsner Hospital, headquartered in Louisiana, announced that it is going to require vaccinations as soon as the CDC removes the emergency designation from the current vaccines. President Biden, speaking in Ohio, says he’s not putting any pressure on the CDC, but believes that will happen sometime between August and October and that children below twelve may be able to take the vaccine under emergency requirements before school starts.
I’ve said it before, but repetitio est mater studiorum, repetition is the mother of study, any care facilities are going to require vaccinations. It’s just a matter of time. Our union had another session with another healthcare chain this week that manages nursing homes. They conceded that their census is down 15-20%. Their patients are at the 96% rate for vaccinations and are pushing the home managers about why the staff is only around 50%. They’ve tried raffles, awards, and anything they can think of to nudge the rates up. Managers are working with our stewards. We pressed for no new hires that weren’t vaccinated or didn’t agree to be vaccinated within a fixed time period. Their lawyer needled us about SEIU 1199 and the SEIU nurses opposing mandatory vaccinations, even as New York imposed that requirement on all of its city-owned hospitals and nursing homes.
We have nothing to say about what others are doing, but there’s no question that mandatory vaccinations are coming in healthcare. It’s not just life and death, but if you are hearing what we’re hearing, it’s also the bottom line. Folks might as well roll up their sleeves, before you’re out of work and out of luck, and wish you hadn’t tempted fate.