Medical professionals and other employees of healthcare systems across the state are reaching out to their legislators in a panic as the New Hampshire Hospital Association issued a statement in support of hospitals and health systems to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for employees.
Following this statement, healthcare systems across the state began announcing impending mandates.
It is a disturbing sign of how far the healthcare system has fallen from its grounding principles when healthcare organizations strip their employees of one of the primary rights of patients: the right of self-determination.
In medical ethics, the principle of autonomy is the right of all patients to make decisions about their health. Each person is an individual with unique moral agency, history, values, beliefs, culture, knowledge, and preferences, who should be treated with dignity and respect. Thus, during their training, medical practitioners are taught that they may educate patients, but must ultimately accept and protect the patient right of self-determination.
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Today, healthcare workers across the state of New Hampshire face job loss for making a reasoned decision to decline still experimental and unapproved COVID-19 vaccines.
Whatever the reason for declining vaccination—be it religious, philosophical, concern about the lack of long-term studies, reports of adverse effects, emerging evidence of the vaccines’ inefficacy at protecting from COVID infection, the conscientious weighing of potential benefit versus risk—these decisions are personal and private.
Doctors, nurses, LNAs, secretaries, housekeepers, food service workers, maintenance workers, dental hygienists, medical technicians, radiological technicians, pharmacists, EMTs, and all other employees of healthcare systems deserve the right to make decisions about their health without punishment from their employers. Health decisions belong to the individual, and they should have the right to informed consent, like all patients, even if the individual is a healthcare worker.
If you are a healthcare worker who is facing job loss over a vaccine mandate, do not quit your job. We must join together and PUSH BACK against these mandates. Can the healthcare systems really afford to fire 30 percent of their workforce? We have strength in numbers. We will be leading the charge against healthcare worker vaccine mandates across New Hampshire.
There is an example of success already: After announcing a vaccine mandate pending FDA approval at Solution Health, the company that owns Elliot Health System, employees banded together with enough force to bring a change of policy. The company sent an email to employees acknowledging a high level of opposition to a mandate of any kind, and conceded that if a mandate were to be put in place, religious and medical exemptions would be honored. The company also acknowledged they would continue to research the issue, which shows that continued opposition and pressure from employees will be an effective strategy. This is encouraging news!
Affected healthcare workers and their allies, please join the newly-announced NH Healthcare Workers for Freedom. Visit NHHealthWorkers.com to join the coalition of health workers fighting back.
Andrew J. Manuse is the Chairman of ReopenNH