Fort Wayne hospitals could face mass exodus of staff over vaccine mandate


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As a result of the federal government requiring COVID-19 vaccines for eligible staff at health care facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, many Hoosiers are feeling unsettled — even willing to quit their jobs.

“I do know a lot of people that say that they’re definitely going to quit their jobs. So, it’s going to be a lot of empty spaces in these jobs… They don’t want to be forced to take a vaccine,” said a Fort Wayne healthcare worker. She asked to remain unnamed, in fear of potentially being penalized for speaking out against the mandate.

The emergency regulation that calls for “all eligible staff” at some 76,000 healthcare facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid across the country to have at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 6, and be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.

The healthcare worker added that “it’s not that I think [the vaccine is] going kill me or anything, but it’s the fact that you’re trying to force me to do something. That’s just unconstitutional. It doesn’t make sense.”

On WANE 15’s public Facebook post, many have expressed similar opinions: getting vaccinated should be a choice, why they’re not getting it, or that the vaccine shouldn’t result in healthcare workers losing their jobs. However, some commenters said they support it.

“100% legal and constitutional,” commented Cody Sharpe. “As a healthcare provider, you are taught to accept evidence based medicine, if you cannot accept that, then a field that relies heavily on science is not for you.”

Dr. Matthew Sutter, Allen County’s Health Commissioner said he asks all residents to look at the scientific studies about the vaccine, and not what they read on Facebook or hear from their friends. He said according to the science, “it’s clear” the vaccines are safe and effective.

“We are a country of individual rights, which is awesome. But there’s also this thing about doing the right thing. Taking care of our neighbors and our loved ones at the same time. Both of those are true.”

Dr. matthew sutter, allen county health commissioner

“It’s not that one is more true than the other,” Sutter said. “But in this case, there’s a global pandemic, and our cases are going up again. I think it’s really important for everybody who’s eligible to get vaccinated.”

The most common side effects are mild, and any serious side effects are extremely rare, according to the health commissioner.

Dr. Sutter said he thinks the vaccine mandate “could have an impact” on the healthcare shortage the nation is currently facing. He also thinks burnout from having to care for people seriously ill from COVID-19 is a driving factor of the shortage.

Overall, Dr. Sutter said he thinks as a result of the mandate, more healthcare workers will end up getting vaccinated.

However, whether the mandate will take effect is still up in the air. Over a dozen Attorneys General, including Todd Rokita, have filed lawsuits attempting to halt the executive order.

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