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Washington County EMS services want vaccine mandate reversed

Two ambulance services in Washington County tell NEWS CENTER Maine that they will lose about half their workforce due to the vaccine mandate

JONESPORT, Maine — With the looming October 1 deadline for health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, some of the state's EMS departments may be in trouble.

"You've already got a short-staffed EMS service in Washington County and it'll get a lot shorter," Eddie Morseide, director of Downeast EMS said.

That's because health care workers, including EMTs and ambulance drivers, will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 1, which Gov. Janet Mills announced last week.

RELATED: Department of Health and Human Services orders vaccines for health workers

"This mandate will not work for us, we need this to be reversed," Renee Gray who runs Moosabec Ambulance Service said.

Moosabec Ambulance Service is mostly volunteer and covers the towns of Jonesport and Beals, Gray said about half of her employees are not willing to be vaccinated. For Downeast Ambulance service, which is a full-time ambulance service that serves about a third of Washington County, it's a similar story as 40% of its staff will not get vaccinated.

"People are gonna have to wait for ambulances, it's gonna be the new norm I guess," Moreside said.

Gray told NEWS CENTER Maine she has reached out to Maine EMS with one question: Why now?

Gray and Moreside said their ambulance services have transported a number of COVID-positive patients over the last year and a half, but none of their employees have been infected.

"That says something, that the PPE method is working," Gray said.

Gray and Moreside add they want this mandate reversed so they can keep their staff and continue to serve the Washington County communities.