Healthcare professionals weigh in after Cuomo announces many will face vaccine mandate

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A vaccine mandate will soon be in effect for healthcare workers in New York State.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement Monday. Some facilities mandated the vaccine weeks ago and lost employees in the process. Some health care workers who are not vaccinated told News10NBC how they’re sticking to what they believe in and are unsure of what’s ahead, as they would have to be vaccinated by Sept. 27.

Front line health care personnel who stand in protest against the vaccine say they know the clock is ticking.

"I’m terrified, my heart is pounding right now, and I’m just thinking about what we’re going to do,” said one registered nurse who’s been in healthcare for over 8 years and wanted to remain anonymous.

"It’s scary to think that your livelihood is going to be at stake because of a vaccine,” another healthcare worker said, who also wanted to remain anonymous in fear of being terminated early.

Both health care workers told News10NBC they faced COVID-19 at its worst, and not once tested positive.

"Right now, because I’m unvaccinated, I have to test monthly, which I’m due now, and I do it, and I have not once tested positive," one LPN said.

Some families have more than one health care provider under one roof, who both feel the same way about not getting the vaccine. A nurse within the state says he and his wife are at a loss for words knowing they will be unemployed come the end of September.

"My wife is also a registered nurse, also unvaccinated and is pregnant.”

Facilities like Jewish Home and Friendly Home mandated the vaccine two weeks ago, before Monday’s state mandate. Both tell us that they did what they felt was right, but lost some employees in the process.

"We’ve had one or two people leave the organization already but the vast majority of our unvaccinated staff are seeking to get the vaccine,” Michael Perrotta aid, the Vice President and Administrator at Friendly Home.

"We had a couple, but not many,” Michele Schirano said who is a registered nurse and the Administrator for Jewish Home.

Schirano says, as a registered nurse, she feels that getting the vaccine shouldn’t be a question.

"In my opinion, because I’m a registered nurse, I took an oath and I believe that oath is to protect people I take care of and that’s my obligation as a health care worker.”

The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) issued the following statement Monday:

“With the sharp increase in primarily unvaccinated patients entering hospitals around the state, we understand more must be done to keep our communities safe. In conjunction with the vaccine mandate, the Department of Health (DOH) must declare COVID-19 a public health emergency and implement the HERO Act to reduce the strain on healthcare. In addition to protecting New Yorkers through vaccination, more must be done to prepare our hospitals for another COVID surge. The DOH must take a stronger role in ensuring healthcare facilities meet health and safety protocols that fully recognize airborne transmission, and are safely staffed with enough frontline healthcare workers, especially ICU nurses. They must also ensure hospitals have adequate and accessible Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies. They should no longer be in a conservation mindset when it comes to PPE.

“Overall, we are seeing a crisis in hospital emergency departments that indicates a general lack of preparedness. The DOH should listen to the frontline this time not just hospital CEO’s. Our healthcare workers are exhausted and traumatized. Their voices should be heard – not denied or characterized as vectors of infection- which is exactly what we are trying to avoid. When healthcare workers document what they are experiencing they must be believed. Hospitals must also ensure that new mandates do not contribute to already problematic staffing shortages. We do not want a situation where patient care is compromised because the pool of nurses and other healthcare workers continues to shrink.

“It is our hope that by the time this mandate is in effect, that the vaccines have gained full FDA approval.”