)Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Hospital vaccine mandates make sense

lLt’s run through why some people are opposed to getting vaccinated…

  • Sunday, September 12, 2021 6:30am
  • Opinion

By Rich Moniak

Responding to record high COVID hospitalizations last week, Foundation Health Partners mandated employees be vaccinated at its three Fairbanks area health care facilities. On Wednesday in Anchorage, Mayor Dave Bronson claimed his “email box is blowing up with people who are health care professionals and who refused to take the vaccine, and to the point where they’ll walk away from their job.”

In this disagreement, there’s no reason to side with the politician unless he produces the goods.

Now, I understand the privacy concerns related to the individual decisions of health care providers. But I think the public ought to hear why any of them told Bronson they’re prepared to quit their jobs if their employer requires that they get vaccinated.

So, starting with one the most bizarre conspiracies circulating in the social media swamps, let’s run through why some people are opposed to getting vaccinated.

A year ago, Tucker Carlson warned his Fox News viewers that Bill Gates would push mandatory vaccinations as a pretext “for mass social control.” That morphed into a plot to use the vaccines to implant microchips in people.

I’m confident there aren’t any health care professionals who believe such nonsense. But if that’s why some refuse to be vaccinated, the public would be better served if they left the medical profession entirely.

There’s a lot of Americans who believe the threat from COVID-19 has been exaggerated by politicians, medical experts, and the mainstream media. Anyone working in a health care facility right now should know that’s not true. And they don’t belong there if they’re telling anyone it is true.

Some, like Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, argue vaccine mandates pose the most serious threat to individual liberty Americans have ever faced. He recently led an effort to restrict state funding for any entity that imposes vaccination mandates. Last month, he shared an article on Facebook that included a photo of actors wearing “VAC Police” helmets while injecting a citizen they had pinned to the ground. Even more despicable is the article he shared titled “This Is 1938: First, They Came for the Unvaccinated.” It was accompanied by a photo of Hitler marching alongside fellow Nazi criminals.

Like the Gates conspiracy, no competent health care provider buys into that propaganda.

However, even if my primary physician doesn’t, but still prioritizes individual liberty over the health of his patients, I’d be out looking for a new doctor at a different clinic.

Another vaccination concern originates with distrust for the government agencies responsible for approving them, the companies that helped develop them, and America’s medical institutions. But any doctor or nurse who feels that way is unlikely to be working alongside others who put so much trust in the profession as a whole.

Finally, there’s the question of whether the vaccines are safe. No one is claiming there aren’t any known immediate side effects. And there may be long-term ones that show up years later. In both cases, it’s essential to understand the degree of risks involved. That’s nothing new for health care professionals. It should be a topic of discussion with their patients for every procedure they recommend and mediation they prescribe.

Essentially, I’m arguing that doctors, nurses, radiologists, lab technicians and pharmacists need a legitimate scientific reason to refuse to be vaccinated. And if they think the vaccines were hastily approved, production wasn’t adequately controlled, or that we’re being misled about the side effects, that belief must be based on well-documented, accredited research.

It’s in the public interest that such information not be withheld solely to protect their employment status or privacy rights. But at a minimum, they should voluntarily share the fact they’re not vaccinated and the reason they made that choice with any patient they treat.

As for Bronson, if many of the emails he received raised serious medical concerns about being vaccinated, then he has a responsibility to obtain permission to share that information with their names. Otherwise, instead of duly informing the public of the vaccines’ serious risks, he’s offering little more than hearsay.

My suspicion, however, is that most objections were not based in medical science. And the only reason he used his bullhorn to spread their message is it suited the political agenda he established during his campaign for office.

• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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