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Maine COVID-19 vaccine mandate prompts staffing concerns

Health care leaders said it is a concern employees could quit but said they will continue to provide education on the vaccine to employees.

MAINE, USA — More than 24 hours after Governor Janet Mills announced the state will require health care workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1, health care leaders are reacting to the news.

"Our best path out of this pandemic is through vaccination," said Dr. James Jarvis, COVID-19 senior physician executive at Northern Light Health

Dr. Jarvis said he is in full support of the new rule. The mandate will apply to any individual employed by a hospital, multi-level health care facility, home health agency, nursing facility, residential care facility, and intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities that are licensed by the State of Maine. 

"It is our job to not only care for individuals but to keep individuals under our care safe," Jarvis said.

Dr. Jarvis said he has heard from a few staff members who have reservations, and said it is a concern employees could walk out.

"It is something that we have discussed internally. We always, due to the nature of Maine and health care, know we have shortages in certain areas and those continue to be an issue not just here in Maine, but around the country," said Jarvis.

The new rule also applies to EMS service workers. Maine State EMS Director Sam Hurley said he is also in support.

"It is important we do everything in our capacity to prevent increases in morbidity and mortality," said Hurley.

Hurley said he has also heard concerns and said a potential ramification could be EMS volunteers choosing to walk away.

"The question we have to ask ourselves as a society and as a profession is if we know that vaccinations are the most effective means at protecting the public. where is that line drawn in the sand?" asked Hurley.

Meanwhile, the Windham Fire Chief who is also the Chair of the Board of EMS, told NEWS CENTER Maine the news was a bit of a surprise and he said he is wondering what enforcement may look like.

Both Dr. Jarvis and Hurley said they will continue to provide education on vaccines to employees.

There will be an emergency EMS Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday to review the rule and take public comment. A link to that will be posted on the Maine EMS website.

NEWS CENTER Maine COVID-19 Vaccine Story Playlist 


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