MAYVILLE — Chautauqua County is calling on the state to permit unvaccinated employees in the health industry to keep their jobs as long as they get regularly tested.
During this week’s Chautauqua County Legislature meeting, lawmakers voted 17-2 for a motion calling on elected officials of the state of New York to consider alternatives to vaccination mandates for healthcare workers.
Motions have no legal authority, but are designed to show a position of the supermajority of a governing body.
The motion, which was introduced by Legislators Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia; Lisa Vanstrom, R-West Ellicott; and County Executive PJ Wendel, notes that the state now requires most health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“In order to not deprive healthcare workers of their livelihood, alternative preventive procedures against COVID-19 infection and transmission should be considered for those healthcare workers who decline to get vaccinated due to their religious beliefs, personal conscience or other core beliefs,” the motion states. “Such alternative preventive procedures might include, but not be limited to, daily rapid COVID-19 testing, aggressive use of personal protective equipment, enhanced facility ventilation and sterilization techniques, and/or assignment of unvaccinated healthcare workers to less vulnerable patients and clients.”
Before the vote took place, audience members weighted in on the motion.
Marcia Johnson of Fredonia asked if the county Department of Health was shown the motion and if they supported it. “This is nonsensical,” she said.
She noted how the resolution calls for unvaccinated healthcare employees only work with those who are less vulnerable. “This is an acknowledgment that they may present more of a risk to patients,” she said.
Gerrit Cole of Frewsburg, however, supports the motion. “It’s wrong to threaten someone else’s livelihood if they don’t get a vaccine. It’s wrong to threaten someone’s education if they don’t get a vaccine. You know that’s wrong,” he said.
During the debate among lawmakers, Legislator Bill Ward, R-Mayville, shared that his wife is an emergency room nurse. “She does not have the luxury of arguing with this virus,” he said.
He noted that he wished the motion stated that the county Health Department recommends the vaccine for all people. “Our health department is about getting as many folks vaccinated as possible,” he said.</…….