Vaccine mandate may have unintended consequences

Health care workers are reacting to Gov. Jay Inslee’s new vaccine mandate and warning of unintended consequences.

In all, 400,000 health care workers are covered by the vaccine mandate. If they refuse, they can be terminated.

“It’s a difficult, ethical situation for everyone on both sides,” said Dr. Mariann Drucker, a radiologist first interviewed on Seattle’s First Hill.

“I think for medical workers, it is imperative. We have to set a good example. Now, on the other hand, I do believe that people do have the right to decide on their own,” she said.

Thousands of health care workers are represented by unions, including the Washington State Nurses Association.

“We support the requirement for vaccinations; we do support that. That is science and evidence-based,” said Executive Director Sally Watkins.

But Watkins has a warning about the unintended consequences of firing those who won’t get the shot.

“We’re already in a staffing crisis. This mandate does include a required termination for those health care workers who are not vaccinated. So how is that going to now make the staffing crisis worse?” she said.

Still, there’s an obligation to protect the public, said a medical information technologist, Laurie Blakley. She knows medical workers who refuse the vaccine.

“I think it’s the right thing to do. I agree with the governor’s mandate,” she said.

Health worker unions have asserted their right to bargain the details of the mandate, such as paid time off for those who suffer side effects from the vaccine and severance pay for those who refuse the vaccine and are terminated.