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2 Stanly representatives sign letter to health system CEOs

Fifty-five House Republicans sent a letter Thursday to health system executives in response to their recent decision to require all hospital staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in the coming weeks in order to keep their jobs.

Ben Moss and Wayne Sasser, both representatives of Stanly County, were among the 55 who signed the letter.

The full letter is as follows:

Dear Health System Executives,

We are writing in regards to your recent decision to require all hospital staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in the coming weeks in order to keep their jobs. We continue to hear from countless constituents who work at your facilities that feel blindsided by this announcement.

Regardless of the legality surrounding mandatory vaccinations, there are valid concerns and fears from healthcare workers who will lose their job if they do not take the vaccine. An issue of particular concern is from women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and those with preexisting conditions or religious objections.

While we recognize the importance of vaccines and respect the rights of private employers, we strongly encourage you to reexamine this requirement with greater input from employees and flexibility for those who have legitimate objections.

From our conversations with constituents who work at these facilities, we feel this was a rushed and hasty decision that does not include feedback and consideration of the employees and staff. These men and women were rightly hailed as healthcare heroes while serving on the frontlines against COVID-19. It is simply unfair to force them to choose between their job and taking a vaccine that is only authorized for “emergency use only” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As you know, hospitals across the state are struggling to fill open nursing positions. In fact, Duke Health is seeking to hire around 700 nursing positions and UNC Health is looking for more than 800 nurses. This decision to terminate nurses and other healthcare professionals who do not take the vaccine will only exacerbate the problem. In certain instances, a hospital could potentially lose 30% of its workforce due to vaccine mandates.

From difficulties in recruitment to a decline in quality of care, there are serious issues that should have been addressed and thought-out before threatening the employment of tens of thousands of healthcare employees.

We believe there is a better path forward that includes more attention, consideration and flexibility surrounding the concerns and uneasiness of your employees, as well as the impact such a mandate will have on recruitment, retention and quality of care.

We understand the pandemic is forcing hard decisions for families, communities and businesses across the entire country, particularly in the health care industry. However, we believe the rush by North Carolina’s largest health systems to “be first in the state to require COVID vaccination for their employees,” is unwise and unfair to the brave healthcare professionals who have sacrificed so much over the past year and a half on the frontlines of the pandemic.

We appreciate your time and attention to this important issue.