County opposes vaccination mandate for health workers | News, Sports, Jobs

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MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County is calling on the state to allow unvaccinated healthcare workers to keep their jobs as long as they are regularly tested.

During this week’s Chautauqua County Legislature meeting, lawmakers voted 17-2 for a motion calling on New York state officials to consider alternatives to vaccination mandates for workers in health.

Motions have no legal authority, but are designed to show a qualified majority position of a governing body.

The motion, which was introduced by lawmakers Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia; Lisa Vanstrom, R-West Ellicott; and County Executive PJ Wendel, notes that the state now requires most healthcare workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“In order not to deprive healthcare workers of their livelihood, alternative preventive procedures against infection and transmission of COVID-19 should be considered for healthcare workers who refuse to be vaccinated due to their religious beliefs, personal conscience or other fundamental beliefs. “ movement indicates. “Such alternative preventive procedures could include, but are not limited to, rapid daily COVID-19 testing, aggressive use of personal protective equipment, improved facilities ventilation and sterilization techniques and / or posting. from unvaccinated health workers to less vulnerable patients and clients. “

Before the vote, audience members weighed in on the motion.

Marcia Johnson from Fredonia asked if the county health department has seen the motion and if they are supporting it. “It’s absurd” she said.

She noted that the resolution calls for unvaccinated healthcare workers to work only with those who are less vulnerable. “It is a recognition that they may present a greater risk to patients”, she said.

Gerrit Cole of Frewsburg, however, seconded the motion. “It is wrong to threaten someone else’s livelihood if they don’t get immunized. It is wrong to threaten someone’s education if they do not get the vaccine. You know it’s wrong, “ he said.

During the debate among lawmakers, lawmaker Bill Ward, R-Mayville, explained that his wife was an emergency room nurse. “She doesn’t have the luxury of arguing with this virus”, he said.

He noted that he wanted the motion to indicate that the county health department recommends the vaccine for everyone. “Our health service is trying to get as many people vaccinated as possible”, he said.

He is concerned that the motion sends the wrong message, but says he does not oppose it. “I don’t think that’s the best solution, (but) if we can allow people to test this. … I guess I can support it reluctantly ”, he said.

Lawmaker Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, agreed, saying he too reluctantly supported him. “I don’t want to cripple the health care industry. When I listen to the news and hear healthcare workers quitting their jobs because they don’t get vaccinated and straining our resources in the emergency room, intensive care units and other areas something needs to be done, “ he said.

Lawmaker Christine Starks, D-Fredonia, encourages everyone to get vaccinated, but sees the motion as a good compromise. “This gives a responsible alternative” she said.

In the vote, lawmakers Ken Lawton, R-Lakewood and Robert Whitney, D-Jamestown, voted against. Everyone else voted in favor.

A copy of the motion will be forwarded to Governor Kathy Hochul, State Senatorial Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Minority Leader Robert Ortt, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Minority Leader William Barclay, and local representatives the representatives said Senator George Borrello and MP Andy Goodell.

Several people spoke at the legislative meeting last month calling on county lawmakers to protect healthcare workers who lose their jobs due to New York’s mandate to vaccinate healthcare workers. There were also protesters outside, opposed to the vaccination warrants.

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