ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) – The New York Department of Health has removed the religious exemption for health care workers who do not wish to be vaccinated. A local health worker believes her entire livelihood would be affected by the new regulation.
As a single mom, Vivian Parsons says her healthcare career could soon be over.
“If I am fired, let me terminate for any other reason my employer deems appropriate,” Parsons said.
Covid vaccine required for nursing home staff or at risk of loss of federal funding
Parsons works in a long-term care facility in the capital region. The NYSDOH voted unanimously, setting a deadline after which all hospitals and nursing homes must require their staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the first dose by Jan.
All other health facilities covered by the regulation – including diagnostic and treatment centers, home health insurance, long-term home health care programs, school-based clinics, and hospice care programs – must have their employees vaccinated by October 7th.
In doing so, they also lifted the religious exception. Parsons says she chooses to keep her belief.
Tracking of COVID vaccinations in the capital region
“Nobody should have to justify to anyone why they wouldn’t want a drug injected into their body when they believe in something else,” she said.
Steven Hanks, the chief clinical officer of St. Peter’s Health Partners, says this is not the first time there has been a debate about religious exemptions and vaccinations.
“They mandated measles vaccination and the absence of any religious exceptions. They felt that the need for public health outweighed religious rights, ”Hanks said.
“I’m sorry; this is unacceptable because we all know the huge staffing problems that every nursing home across the state has,” said Parsons.
New York medical workers respond to the vaccination mandate
Hanks says it’s too early to say how many health care workers they could lose to this mandate, but he believes it won’t lead to a staffing crisis.
The NYSDOH said these health facilities are responsible for developing a plan for the implementation of the mandate and any actions they will take regarding non-compliant employees.