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This week’s edition!

The vaccine mandate is
. . . complicated

Touching Base

Op-ed by Nathan Tsukroff

In the Maine Republican’s weekly radio address last Friday, this is what we heard:

“This is State Representative Kathleen Dillingham, of Oxford, with the Weekly Republican Radio Address. Recently, the Governor, and her administration, used the Department of Health and Human Services public health emergency issued July 1, 2021, to mandate that all healthcare employers require their employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and those employees who do not, will lose their jobs. That is an estimated 10,000 healthcare employees.”

Mandates of any kind can be . . . complicated.

And the recent mandate by Gov. Mills that all healthcare workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1 adds to the complication.

Let’s look at the facts –

As we found in the State of Maine’s statement on the vaccine mandate, “The State of Maine has long required the immunization of employees of designated health care facilities to reduce the risk of exposure to, and possible transmission of, vaccine-preventable diseases. These immunizations include measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis B, and influenza. This existing rule has been amended to include the COVID-19 vaccine. The organizations to which this requirement applies must ensure that each employee is vaccinated, with this requirement being enforced as a condition of the facilities’ licensure.”

Dillingham’s statement is at odds with the governor’s mandate, since the mandate DOES NOT refer to firings, but rather to licensure of a healthcare facility.

In other words, the governor did not tell healthcare workers to be vaccinated or they would be fired.

However, that doesn’t mean healthcare workers can be secure in their jobs.

Here’s where it starts to get complicated.

You see, Maine is a so-called at-will state. That means anyone without a union agreement or a work contract can be fired for any reason whatsoever. You sneezed funny? You’re fired!

In May, Democratic party members of the Maine legislature looked at rescinding or modifying that law. That attempt was blocked by chambers of commerce across the state, and by other legislators.

Okay, I get it. An employer wants the right to hire and fire at will. Most states in the US give employers that power.

However, that takes away our “rights” as employees, doesn’t it?  So now we know that we don’t have any “rights” without a union or a personal contract here in Maine.

Healthcare workers say they are concerned about the safety of the vaccines.

Granted, the vaccines were approved by the FDA on an emergency basis. BUT, that approval was only after initial tests showed the efficacy and safety of the vaccines. In other words, the vaccines were not approved arbitrarily, but were actually approved based on scientific studies. That was at the beginning of the year.

Now let’s look at the situation today. More than 50 million Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19 with one of the three vaccines. No major issues have been reported that have stopped the vaccinations. I’m quite impressed that we have been able to do a “test” that involves some 50 million people, aren’t you?

And one of my friends told me they were concerned about tracking chips from Microsoft that have supposedly been placed in the vaccines. They spoke to their doctor, who assured them they weren’t important enough to justify having chips in their vaccines. Ouch!

All joking aside, I believe the vaccines are safe and effective.

Putting it all together, healthcare workers can be hired and fired at-will in Maine, and are already required to be vaccinated against multiple other diseases. The COVID-19 vaccine is just one more disease to be prevented with a vaccine.

My friend doesn’t like being told what to do, but they like their job . . . so they will be getting vaccinated.

Perhaps it’s not so complicated after all.

This is an opinion from Nathan Tsukroff, Managing Editor, and may not reflect the opinions of other staff members or the publisher

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