Family expresses frustration over some nursing home staff refusing to get COVID-19 shot |

Family expresses frustration over some nursing home staff refusing to get COVID-19 shot

Charles Molineaux
Updated: January 28, 2021 06:02 PM
Created: January 28, 2021 05:27 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Even after weeks of opportunity, 44% of New York's nursing home workers have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.    

It’s become a frustrating mystery for some health leaders and a frustrating heartbreak for people with loved ones in nursing homes.

“The people that didn't get the shots say ‘I only care about myself. I don't even care about my own family,’” Brian Wasserman said. 

With his father, Robert, at The Landing of Brighton, Wasserman says he was stunned to learn that, while the vaccine has been offered to all The Landing's residents and workers, some employees are refusing it and are not compelled to get it.

“And I ask, is this true, is this really true that employees can work there not get vaccinated? And they told me yes, it is,” Wasserman said.

Robert is 82 and has dementia. His son says he barely survived a fight with COVID-19 already, they haven't seen each other in eight months, and he's livid that some staff who are closest to his dad are refusing to get the vaccine.

“Every week there are new cases," Wasserman said." Every week they are like, we're going to open up in two weeks. Then there are more cases because employees come in who aren't vaccinated." 

The Landing of Brighton sent the following response:

"We deeply appreciate the value and hope that the COVID-19 vaccines bring. While we continue to strongly encourage all employees to get vaccinated, we are also mindful of those employees who may hesitate to get the vaccine because of its newness. To help raise the comfort level and increase participation, we have implemented a robust educational initiative, including dialogue with physicians and other healthcare experts to educate employees about the vaccine and its benefits. We continue to strictly screen all residents, employees and visitors for COVID-19 symptoms, test all employees on a weekly basis and  use appropriate PPE.  These are still unprecedented times and we believe it is important to treat both residents and staff with respect and compassion."

Even at Rochester Regional Health, which is struggling to get more of its employees to accept the vaccines, health leaders say they can't require people to get it because technically, it is FDA-approved only as an emergency measure, and under current law, it's impossible to force people to be vaccinated, even as a condition of keeping your job.

"There is no mandatory option," Dr. Mayo said. "I think that would require a state action since the governor has also affirmed on numerous occasions that the vaccine is voluntary."

Wasserman says state action sounds like a fine idea. 

"Today is what we need. Today is action time. Mr. Cuomo, please, today, make the law. Everybody gets a shot. Mandatory. First responders. Everybody." 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said making vaccines mandatory even for people at healthcare facilities would be very tough to do by law, and there are no plans in the works to try to make it mandatory.  

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